Monday, August 27, 2012
Recession Over? Not For Most Americans!
I guess it all depends on how a recession is defined. If all that matters is positive GDP growth, a good stock market, and healthy profits by corporations, then the recession is over. But what good is a definition that leaves out 95% or more of this country's inhabitants? This country isn't inhabited just by the rich and the economic pundits, and their definition leaves out more than 300 million people.
How are things going for the bottom 95%? Well, things haven't improved for them at all. Their situation is the same as it was during the depths of the official recession back in 2008-2009. All we have to do is look at the figures. We can start by looking at the chart above (from Think Progress). The chart was made to point out how much worse the recession has been for African-Americans (and that is certainly true), but if you will note, the household incomes of all races continues to drop. And these figures aren't from 2008, but represent what has happened between 2009 and 2012. While incomes for the rich are rising, the household incomes for everyone else is either stagnant or falling (and when considered as a group are falling -- regardless of race).
Then we come to the jobs figures. The unemployment rate is still abnormally high, resting at 8.3% (and would be down to around half of that in a healthy economy). Add to that the fact that there is very little job creation happening -- with the number of new jobs barely being able to cover the number of new workers entering the job market each month. There are at least 15.3 million people in the United States who need a full-time job, but can't find one. When you add in the number of people working part-time because they can't find full-time work, that number jumps up to 23.5 million (the number of full-time jobs needed).
There is a legitimate reason why the huge majority of Americans say the economy is not improving, and why they have a pessimistic view of the future. That's because the recession is still in full force for them -- and will be until household incomes start to rise again and substantial numbers of new jobs are being created. The recession may be over for Wall Street and the corporations, but most Americans remain mired deeply in it.
Is the recession over? NO, and the media pundits need to stop saying it is. They may be technically correct with their flawed definition, but they are showing an ignorance of what is really happening with most Americans.