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Sunday, March 30, 2014

When Long-term Unemployment Becomes Self-perpetuating

By Catherine Rampell
Washington Post
March 24, 2014

Say it with me: The LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYED are not lazy. Nor are they coddled, HAMMOCKED or enjoying a coordinated, taxpayer-funded vacation.

They are, however, extremely unlucky and getting unluckier by the day.

Take Renardo Gomez of Fitchburg, Mass. In three years, Gomez ricocheted from a stable hospital job of 20 years that paid $34,000 annually to a sudden layoff to a series of low-paying, short-term gigs interspersed with longer and longer spells of unemployment. He expects an eviction notice soon.

“I keep putting in 110 percent and getting 10 percent back,” he says.

A new Brookings Institution STUDY that tracks the fates of those unlucky workers who don’t manage to find stable new jobs in their first few weeks of unemployment suggests that this post-layoff tailspin is distressingly common.

It was ALREADY KNOWN that the LONGER workers have been out of a job, the lower their chance of finding work in the coming month. The Brookings paper - by the former Obama administration economist Alan Krueger and his Princeton colleagues Judd Cramer and David Cho took this analysis a step further: What about (gulp) these workersג longer-run prospects?

It turns out that from 2008 to 2012, only one in 10 people who were already long-term unemployed in a given month had returned to steady, full-time employment by the time government surveyors checked in on them a little more than a year later. Steady in this case means that they were working for at least four consecutive months. And the other nine in 10 workers? They were still out of work, toiling in part-time or transitory jobs or had dropped out of the labor force altogether.

In other words, like Gomez, the vast majority of people caught in long spells of joblessness do not find work again, or at the very least have trouble hanging on to whatever replacement jobs they had initially thanked their lucky stars for.

Its unclear why unemployment becomes increasingly self-perpetuating. Perhaps it is merely selection bias - that is, the most desirable jobless workers get picked off early, leaving the less desirable workers behind to rack up more and more weeks of unemployment. But the Princeton researchers had difficulty detecting obvious differences between the short-term unemployed and the long-term unemployed. These two groups are about equally spread around the economy by sector, occupation and educational attainment, and for the most part are similar demographically (though the long-term unemployed skew older).

Such demographic similarities suggest that something about the experience of joblessness tarnishes workers marketability.

One possibility is stigma. In another recent study, researchers sent out fake resumes in response to job postings. All other qualifications held equal, employers were MUCH LESS LIKELY to respond to resumes from applicants who had been out of work longer. (Some employers are QUITE NAKED about these PREJUDICES, declaring in job ads that applicants must be currently or recently employed.)

Workers’ skills may deteriorate as they spend more time on their couches instead of in cubicles or on work sites. Professional networks might also fray, which is especially damaging for those in sales. Hard skills in dynamic industries such as technology might become outdated. Even softer skills, like showing up on time or exhibiting self-confidence, may erode.

One car dealership manager I spoke with last year said that applicants who had been job-hunting longest seemed to have the most trouble making eye contact with him and expressing any enthusiasm or hopefulness about their future. “Why would I hire someone like that?” he said. “He isn’t even trying to sell himself. There’s no way he could sell a car.”

One implication of the Brookings research is that policymakers should have done more to prevent the short-term jobless from falling into long-term joblessness in the first place. Of course, time machines are rarely an effective policy tool.

Which is why many economists have been hoping that a strengthening recovery would be enough to help Gomez, insecure would-be car salesmen and the nation’s 4.5 million other long-term jobless workers. As demand picks up, many analysts have declared, businesses would have no choice but to absorb workers with more pockmarked resumes. After all, in a booming economy, supposedly even ex-felons are in high demand.

Alas, the Brookings paper makes that deus ex machina appear unlikely. The authors looked at the reemployment chances for long-term unemployed workers around the country and found that these workers do not fare substantially better in states with booming job markets (e.g., North Dakota) than in states with struggling job markets (e.g., Michigan).

Which means that even as the overall U.S. economy improves, those already deeply scarred by the financial crisis are unlikely to share in the bounty.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/30/14 •
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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Ghosts of America’s Long-Term Unemployed

unemployed-mba.jpg

The government stops tracking jobless Americans after six months, though they face a future of sporadic, part-time work

By Jana Kasperkevic
The Guardian
March 27, 2014

America is filled with millions of ghosts: living, breathing human beings, who, for economic purposes, are completely unaccounted for and totally invisible.

A new report suggests that the long-term unemployed those who have been out of a job for six months or more - are having no effect on the labor market, either good or bad. “Their unfortunate unemployment situation exert[s] little pressure on wage growth or inflation,” REPORTS THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTE.

That’s an enormous number of people without any kind of financial footprint. The number of those who have been out of work at least six months is currently 3.8 million, ACCORDING TO THE US DEPARTMENT OF LABOR. Thats about one million less than last year, but still higher than is historically normal.

There’s no easy way out, either. When Brookings checked in with those who had been unemployed for more than six months, now 15 months after their initial bout of unemployment, a third weren’t working and had GIVEN UP THEIR SEARCH. Another 30% were still looking.

Only one in 10 of those out of a job for longer than six months found full-time employment, found Brookings. For another 11% of the long-term unemployed, employment was sporadic.

If the long-term unemployed are not having an impact on major economic markers, it makes it less likely that Washington will feel any urge to create new policy responses. Republicans in Congress already oppose extending unemployment benefits to those who have been out of work for a long time.

That means the long-term unemployed will find that their troubles are unlikely to go away after they find a new job which are often temporary, sporadic and part-time. In fact, only one in 10 is likely to find stable employment down the road.

“We have a huge problem of long-term unemployment. People have been out of work for at least six months, millions of them,” says Justin Wolfers, senior fellow in economics at Brookings.

A series of questions remains for economists: What happens to the long-term employed? Will they ever find a job again? Have they lost hope?

27 weeks and over

The Department of Labor measures duration of unemployment in weeks, ending with a vague category of “27 weeks and over”, as if after six months of unemployment the unemployed werenҒt worth measuring anymore. Yet not all long-term unemployed fall into a pit of despair.

Six months is a long time to go without a job. What’s more, job searching in today’s economy can be a soul-crushing process. As days pass, with resumes going out and no calls or responses coming in, job-hunters say it can be difficult to remain motivated, to keep sending out those resumes, to sound excited about a job prospect.

Often the brief respite from long-term unemployment comes in form of part-time, poverty-wage jobs. Those, too, can be sporadic, often resulting in pay that barely covers basic bills.

Who are the long-term unemployed?

At 40%, millennials are currently facing the highest long-term unemployment of all age groups. Their entrance to job market has been rocky. Many still live with their parents and are saddled with college debt. Just one in 10 describe their job as a “career”. In 2013, the underemployment rate for college graduates was 18.3%, as compared to 9.9% in 2007, according to Economic Policy Institute. Most cant afford to be picky about jobs right now. After all, many reason, their college loans aren’t going to pay themselves and a small paycheck is better than no paycheck.

There might be an upside, however, to getting that expensive education. Brookings found that those who had an associates degree or bachelor degree or higher were more likely to be employed.

Also, more likely to be employed were those who were married, according to Brookings.

“Fully 44% of the long-term unemployed were never married, while nearly 20% are either widowed, separated or divorced.”

If there ever was a motivation to find a job, having a hungry family at home was it.

Unemployed and forgotten

Well before the Brookings report described the statistics, the US Congress took steps to back away from the long-term unemployed, reasoning that unemployment benefits were an unnecessary cost to the government. In December, long-term unemployment benefits expired without being renewed. In the months since, lawmakers have unsuccessfully struggled to come up with a compromise. And while Senators Jack Reed and Dean Heller came up with a proposal that Senate voted to open up for a debate earlier today, the Republican-held House still remains an obstacle.

Earlier this week, speaker of the House John Boehner said he will only consider the bill if it comes with “provisions that would actually help the economy and help people get back to work.” He then said: “Those conditions have not been met.”

SOURCE

One Anonymous Woman’s story

My unemployment story is only different from any other long term unemployment story in that the names, faces, and times are different. In every other regard, my story is relatively the same. I have been out of work 45 months and 12 days. Like others, I have taken piecemeal jobs to fill in the gaps. Whatever comes along.

In 2011, after 8 months out, I took a contract job with my state. The state government shut down and my contract ended. In 2013, long after unemployment insurance expired, I was desperate for work and took an INTERNSHIP position, to both tide me over and put some recent experience on my resume. Though I have 25 years of experience, it was difficult to bite my tongue as I watched the young boss make mistakes that were so obvious to me. When that same 20 something was promoted and the position became open, I was asked to fill in in her stead until the season ended, but was not allowed to apply for the open position because I did not have enough RECENT experience. 3 degrees and 25 years of experience, is overshadowed by 1 year of recent experience. This happens so often to the long term unemployed.

Long term unemployment often leads to feelings of depression and thoughts of suicide. The victims of unemployment are often victimized multiple times. Once when they receive the news of their impending doom, then when their unemployment insurance runs out (if they were lucky enough to receive it in the first place), and again when they run out of savings, retirement benefits and the like. Victimization comes again when some lose their homes, sell their personal belongings by whichever means are available, move in with elderly relatives, children, or anyone else who may take them in. Some must couch surf, live in trailers, tents, or cars-- hopping from parking lot to parking lot. The unlucky few must move to homeless shelters. Again, the unemployed are victimized by our own government and media who falsely claim that we have dropped out of the workforce, are no longer looking for employment, have given up, and then consequently no longer count us as even being a part of the population. We have disappeared. Ignoring us makes it even more difficult to believe that we matter.

This practice makes it acceptable for the public to sneer at us and tell us we are indolent, layabouts living off the dole of the public, and that we are not looking hard enough.  What the hell kind of people are we? “Just go out and get a job already.” To make matters worse, the working public believes they have the antidote to our new found “freedom.” We can go on vacation now. Use this time to invest in our hobbies. And, wait for it… Open our own business.

The other group of wisdom distributors says we should get a McJob. “Take anything,” they say. At one time in our nations history, we were told to go out and get an education so we wouldn’t have to work a minimum wage job for the rest of your life. Now, these same people ask you “why, with your 3 degrees and science background, you are too good to take a minimum wage job and stop living off the public.” Does anyone else see the irony in this?

Now the first question people ask when they see me is, Do you have a job yet? Why not? Where have you looked? Have you tried X, Y, Z? You must be working by now! I canӒt believe you’re not working yet-- What is wrong with you?

Believe it or not, the long term unemployed have tried EVERYTHING. We have done things to our resumes that you could not possibly imagine doing unless you are living this life. Most of us could writea book about our experience job hunting. These demeaning, unsolicited questions and statements stab like a million tiny cuts every day. Many of us no longer attend social or family engagements, partly because we cannot afford it, but also because of the shame we feel and the stigma associated with being unemployed.

We can’t stand arguing the fact that there are no jobs and, once again, recite the litany of things we have done to try to find meaningful employment.

Politicians seem to be unable to count past 27 weeks. Try counting 27 months, 40 months, 50 months, and more. There are simply no jobs, despite what radio and television are telling you. It’s easier for many to look through rose colored glasses at the world than it is to see us and the reality of what has happened to this nation.

My retirement money is gone. I received a huge penalty for early withdrawal that I promptly gave to the government. So how am I on the dole? My unemployment insurance ran out over 2 years ago. I am still repaying student loans for a Masters degree that has as much value as toilet paper.

I look for work every day. The rejection letters, when employers see fit to send one, are piling up in my inbox and in a paper folder. Interviews, when I can get one, are futile as 20 and 30-somethings do not see the value in hiring people age 45 and over. Overqualified. Underqualified. These are euphemisms for: We wont hire you. You’re too old. Too this. Too that.

This is only part of my story. It’s only part of all of the unemployedҒs story. The unrest we feel is festering. We are not going to wait around for our nation to get its act together much longer. We cannot wait any longer. The time to do something was yesterday.

This crisis has far reaching effects, well into the future. The public needs to hear us. Our government officials need to acknowledge us and ACT. We need ACTION now!

Posted by Elvis on 03/28/14 •
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The New Retirement Is No Retirement

Can the young Atlas support the heavy burden of an aging population?

By My Budget 360
March 27, 2014

58 million Americans currently receiving Social Security Benefits. Over half of elderly beneficiaries receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security.

Social Security was never designed as a long-term retirement plan.  According to the Social Security Administration for elderly beneficiaries, 53 percent of married couples and 74 percent of unmarried persons receive 50 percent or more of their income from Social Security.  This is an incredibly high number that depend primarily on Social Security and also reflects a default usage of Social Security as the main “retirement plan” for many elderly Americans.  Yet Social Security needs a constant stream of payments from current workers and this usually comes from the younger workforce.  Young Americans are heavily burdened by the massive cost of higher education and are also paying into the system more than they are likely to get out when they reach retirement age.  There is some generational debate between the young and the old but one thing is clear and that is many older Americans did not prepare for retirement and are now left with only Social Security as their primary source of income.  Whether this is justified the young are saddled with a large burden moving forward and it is only going to get heavier as 10,000 baby boomers hit retirement age each day.

The massive growth in Social Security beneficiaries

The number of Social Security beneficiaries has expanded dramatically in recent years as more baby boomers hit their retirement years.  What is also impacting the number of people receiving benefits is the number of those receiving disabled workers and dependentsӔ benefits.  This figure doubled over the last decade and part of this is the emergence of a new low-wage workforce.  We now have well over 10 million of the 58 million beneficiaries receiving benefits from a program not intended for long-term usage.  This only adds a further challenge to those paying into the system.

Take a look at the growth in beneficiaries:

2014-03-28-social-security-benefits-graph.png
Source:  Social Security Administration

“The number of total beneficiaries has increased by 28 percent since 2000.  However, the number of those on disabled workers and dependents benefits has gone up nearly 100 percent over this same period.  In contrast the US Population since 2000 has increased by 13 percent.”

Structural issues are deeply ingrained in this new economy where low-wage work is dominating.  Retirement is likely to be a struggle for many.  Let us look at benefits data more closely:

2014-03-28-social-security-benefits.png

Roughly 47 million Americans are receiving old-age and survivors insurance.  What is more troubling for our economy is the nearly 11 million receiving disability insurance.  This figure has gone up nearly 100 percent since 2000 but is really reflecting structural changes in our economy.  Many are simply opting out of the workforce for a variety of reasons.  Some people argue that people are receiving too much here but the average retiree is getting $1,228 per month while the average person on disability is getting $995 per month.  Going back to our initial data, that $1,228 a month is virtually the bulk of income for most elderly Americans.  Pensions are now becoming more of a relic to the past so we can only estimate that this issue is going to grow.

Young supporting the old but already in debt

The young disproportionately are carrying a massive debt burden.  Most of this burden is in the form of student debt.  Student debt has become a major issue starting in the late 1990s.  Over $1.2 trillion in student debt is outstanding largely carried by those in their 20s and 30s.  Take a look at debt growth in various sectors:

2014-03-28-student-debt.jpg

Notice that orange line in the first chart for those under 30?  The young are going into deep debt to finance their education.  It is either that, or compete for a job in low-wage America.  Even last year, the bulk of debt growth came about thanks to student debt and auto debt:

014-03-28-household-debt.png

Of the $180 billion in debt growth over the last year, most of it came in the form of student debt and auto debt with student debt being the biggest gainer.

Going back to 1937 to 1949, employees only paid 1 percent of their total wages into Social Security taxes.  Today, that figure is seven times higher at 7.65 percent.  Keep in mind that employers pay the other side of taxes bringing the total up to 15.3 percent.  This is a tough challenge for the young that are already facing the following:

-Massive student

-Cash strapped in low-wage America

-Paying much higher Social Security taxes than previous generations for a much smaller payout

How long can this upside down math last?  Hard to say but few are looking out for the middle class.  What the data does show is that most young and old Americans are fully unprepared for retirement.  The new retirement is no retirement.

SOURCE

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Older Poor Americans And Their Search For Work

July 30, 2014

WorkampersӔ travel across the country in RVs, often performing seasonal work or even working part-time in huge Amazon warehouses. (Curtis Perry/Flickr)

More than 7 million Americans age 65 years and older were still working last year. Thats up 60 percent from a decade ago.

A story in HarperҒs Magazine opens a windowinto some of these people. Theyre called ғworkampers (a contraction of working and camping) and they travel across the country in their RVs, often performing seasonal work, selling fireworks, pumpkins, Christmas trees. They even work part-time in huge Amazon warehouses.

Many of these people say they love the work, which they need for the income. But there are obvious downsides. They donԒt have health care and they dont have unions to protect them.

Jessica Bruder is author of the story, ғThe End Of Retirement: When You Cant Afford To Stop Working,Ҕ in the August issue of Harpers. She told Here & NowҒs Robin Young that this movable work force is a great thing for companies like Amazon.

ItӒs actually kind of an employers dream,Ҕ she said. They show up with the house. TheyӒre ready to go and they disappear when you dont need them. They pretty much create these ephemeral company towns.Ҕ

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/28/14 •
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rise Of The Temp Workers Part 5 - Freelancers

Freelancers Piece Together a Living in the Temp Economy

By Adriene Hill
NY Times
March 24, 2014

The photos spread out on a coffee table tell the story of a career. In one, a woman wears a fairy costume and rides a flying horse. In another, the woman lounges on a desert rock at sunrise, in a gold bikini draped with red silk. In a third, she wears an Uncle Sam outfit and poses on three-foot stilts.

Not on the table are audition reels from Ms. Burdettes other career, one in which corporations pay her $500 to $1,000 a day to present their products, including tires and cybersecurity products, at trade shows. It is work for which she wears business attire instead of hot pants. These jobs are lucrative but infrequent.

The overlapping careers have this in common: The work is temporary, one freelance job after another. Ms. Burdette is among the millions of Americans who piece together a living. Freelancers, the self-employed, temporaries - all know the current job will end and they need to keep looking for the next one. Increasingly, even many people with full-time jobs feel insecurity about their work.

Ms. Burdette knows the trajectory of insecurity. She has worked in Las Vegas as an entertainer since 1996, sometimes in jobs that quickly disappeared.

Right now, she is busy. A freelancer since 2008, she works with 30 agents. Some help her book conventions. Others set her up with entertainment jobs. In addition to her presenting, this year she has worked as an astrologer and stilt-walker, and she helped dress fashion models at a mall. She is fortunate to live in a city with huge entertainment and convention industries that rely on temporary workers. ItӒs the land of opportunity, she said.

But as Ms. Burdette gets older, she has no choice but to consider new ways to earn a paycheck. In both of her careers, looks matter. At 43, she knows she cannot do these jobs indefinitely.

“I’m really proud of the moments and the things these represent,” she said, touching the photos on her coffee table. One is a profile of her, not in costume, with the words “Remember who you are ... and always keep growing.” This is to inspire her, to encourage her to work on the skills she will need for whatever work will come next.

“Whether that means getting a 9-to-5 job and putting on the big-girl pants,” she said, “or whether it just means going into something where people are not looking at me, and I’m not covered in rhinestones every day.”

How many people have temporary work is hard to say. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14 million people were self-employed last month, including freelancers like Ms. Burdette.

There has been no official count of insecure workers in years. In 2006, the Government Accountability Office estimated that about 30 percent of the work force was ԓcontingent, including those with temporary and part-time jobs.

The number of people paid by temp agencies like Manpower has grown 46 percent since 2009, according to Labor Bureau data. ԓThe staffing industry has added more jobs than any other sector since the end of the recession, said Erin Hatton, a sociology professor at the University at Buffalo and the author of ԓThe Temp Economy.

There are contingent office workers and factory workers. There are contingent computer programmers and corporate executives.

ԓWe know that temps are everywhere, Professor Hatton said.

Starting with the recession, employers have slashed costs, and a major way to do that has been to lower labor costs. Temporary workers often are paid less than regular employees. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies can avoid health insurance costs by hiring part-time workers (who may qualify for subsidized insurance).

“What we call contingent workers is really hard to define, because to some extent were all contingent now,” said Arne Kalleberg, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of “Good Jobs, Bad Jobs.”

Work has become much more insecure, much more precarious,Ӕ he said. So everybody is a temporary in one sense, because their levels of job security have really decreased in recent years.Ӕ

The trick with insecure work, for the worker, is that the next paycheck is unpredictable. For low-income factory temps, being chosen for work can mean the difference between making rent or not making rent, eating well or not eating well. For freelancers like Ms. Burdette, the lack of security can make it hard to buy a house or plan for the future. What if a job comes up? What if it doesnt?

Ms. Burdette is familiar with financial insecurity. She declared bankruptcy in 2005. When she married in 2008, she brought to the marriage a few thousand dollars in credit card debt.

She and her husband, Jozef Bobula, met in January and married in May. They were in love, she said, but he also needed a green card for immigration reasons. HeҒs from Slovakia.

Mr. Bobula, 37, is a bass guitarist. He, too, pieces together work in Las Vegas, and is playing a regular gig at the Stratosphere casino. He also has a jazz trio and a duo, plays solo and teaches music.

Part of what attracted Ms. Burdette to Mr. Bobula was his ability to manage money. “He is accustomed to saving first and spending second,” she said.

Today, her credit card debt is paid off. Her 2000 Nissan Xterra is paid for. She says the last four years have been her first without debt since she was 18.

Ms. Burdette calls her financial situation stable right now. She and her husband, combined, make $55,000 to $75,000 a year. Their apartment is cozy, but comfortable. Ms. Burdette calls the style “Craigslist chic,” because she bought most of her furniture on the resale website. The most valuable things in their apartment are her husbands guitars.

The couple do not have retirement savings, but they do have an emergency fund and are considering investing a portion of it in the stock market. Her husband had the savings account when they married, and they only recently added her name to it. They waited, she said, because they wanted to see if the marriage would last.

“To have my name on it,” she said, “it brought still another level of peace and comfort that I didnt think could even have existed.”

“I can say no to gigs I don’t want to do,” she said. “I can be more discerning. I don’t have to stand around in a showgirl costume if I’m not feeling physically up to it in terms of my appearance.”

Ms. Burdette wants to find a new set of gigs in which people are not looking at her quite as closely. She has explored voice-over work, recording audiobooks. She has considered doing more with her astrology experience.

She would consider a full-time job, but as a last choice. She said her parents spent years planning and worrying and stressed about the future. ԓIt didnt get them any more secure than me,Ҕ she said. IӒm actually more secure right now, because I understand that the bottom can fall out at any time.

One of her old business cards said, ԓWhaddya need? Her current card says, ԓsingularly multitalented.

Under the new health law, which includes a mandate to buy insurance or face a penalty, Ms. Burdette has coverage for the first time in years. ԓIt does provide people with a cushion, Professor Kalleberg said, ԓso that they can search, so that they can look for opportunities.

Now, Ms. Burdette has to figure out what those opportunities will be. Reinvention is a word heard a lot in today’s labor market. Jobs keep changing. People have to change to keep up, especially people without employers that provide training.

“But many temporary and self-employed workers do not have the money or time to reinvent themselves and their skills. Even if they do, it is not clear which jobs will be available. The path ahead is not going to be laid out for you,” Professor Kalleberg said.

“The advice to reinvent is easy to say, sitting in a job that has a fairly clear career path like I do,” he said. “But it’s a difficult situation and its stressful.”

Figuring out whats next may be a little easier for Ms. Burdette. She has been doing just that for years.

“I don’t know what it’s like not to reinvent”, she said, “I’m just used to that.”

Hill is a senior reporter for the public radio program “Marketplace.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 03/25/14 •
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Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Next Depression Part 53 - You’re Next

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Do Not Make Fun Of Those That Have Fallen Out Of The Middle Class - You Could Be Next

By Michael Snyder
Ecomomic Collapse Blog
March 20, 2014

There are millions of American families that once lived very comfortable middle class lifestyles that have lost it all.  When you are unemployed and you can’t find a decent job, it can crush your soul.  Every day you can see the disappointment or the disapproval in the eyes of your family and friends, and it can be really easy to want to give up completely.  And then there are always those that choose to actively vocalize their disdain for those that are down on their luck.  But telling people “to get a job” or shaming them for being on welfare isn’t going to solve anything in an economy where there simply are not enough jobs for everyone.  Only a small minority of welfare recipients are actually trying to abuse the system.  Most people just want to work hard and take care of their families.  Unfortunately, that is much harder to do than it was before the last financial crisis.

At this point, our economy has stabilized at a much lower level than it was at before.  For example, 32 million Americans were on food stamps when Barack Obama took office, and subsequently that number shot up to about 47 million.  Fortunately, that number has been relatively stable for the last couple of years, but there has been no recovery.  This can be seen in lots of other economic statistics as well.

If we were going to have an “economic recovery”, it should have happened by now.

Unfortunately, it has not materialized, and now the next downturn is coming.

Since I run a website called “The Economic Collapse”, a lot of people seem to assume that I actually want an economic collapse to happen.  But that is not the truth at all.  I love this country, and just like most other people I really enjoy life in modern America.  I wish that the party could go on forever.  But I know that it cannot.

And every day I hear from people that are deeply suffering in this economy.  Anyone that has a heart that hears of such suffering would want things to get better.  Why would anyone want to see even more pain?

But I know that more pain is coming.

In the years ahead, a tremendous amount of love and compassion are going to be needed.  When people lose their jobs, their entire lives can be turned upside down.  Just consider the case of one formerly middle class woman named Abby Henson…

Last winter I ran into a friend pushing his two youngest children in a stroller. When I asked how he was doing, he told me hed recently lost his job. I walked away thinking, ғThank God thats not us.Ҕ Fast-forward seven months and now were the family people walk away from with a sigh of relief.

One day this summer, my husband came home early from work with the news he’d lost his job. Since then, weve gone through all the stages of grief, with a few additions of our own. I’ve gone into what Ive dubbed “Mama Bear” mode, wanting to do everything with my husband and our two small children, maybe because I just don’t want to face anyone alone. How are you doing? is a hard question to answer in the rush of school pickup. So I keep my mate and cubs close, or we hibernate at home, trying to avoid scrutiny.

Sadly, this kind of thing has happened to millions of families.  Those that doubt this just need to look at the survey numbers.

Back in 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”.

In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”.

This next story that I want to share with you is from a reader named Joe.  Please look past the lack of punctuation, and consider what he is saying.  This is a man that has had his heart broken…

I’m not sure whats worse. never having a career and family or losing them both. I know that when i got the honor of handing 20 years of hard work to the chinese it plunged me in to despair and a horrible spin. 3 years later and a college degree and ive lost my home and my family over it. and all i got was, you could have, you should have. so its all my fault that someone elses greed caused all this. by the way the corporate CEO that did this makes 7 million bucks a year. she caused 2 divorces. a dozen early forced retirements, countless career losses and multiple wrecked families. I’m lucky i still have my RV which is home now. i used to have a nice 4 bedroom house with all the middle class trimmings. now i consider myself lucky to have a job where i barely make the space rent and no hope of recovering my former career or my family. i had it all and lost it so i dont know whats worse having or never having it at all and pining for it. either way it hurts knowing that no one wants you after you fall apart you’re just a hot potato. all i know is that im lost with no hope with a clean 30 year work history thats now moot. in retrospect i wish i had stayed in the saddle and kept riding my motorcycle till i was no more.

And it is not just older Americans that are suffering in this economy.

Many young people that worked incredibly hard through school and that did everything “right” now find the door to the middle class completely shut.  The following is testimony from a recent college graduate that is incredibly sad.

I’m a college graduate. I live at home. I am on food stamps. I graduated about two years ago and the only work I’ve been able to get is sign waving. Temp agencies are all so flooded with applicants they are almost useless. I’ve sent out hundreds of resumes, filled out dozens of applications, and nothing ever happens. Everyone acts like it’s YOUR fault. That used to be hurtful, but now I’m past caring, because I realize what life holds for me: nothing. I will never have a family or career. I will never own a home or even live on my own again. I will never be able to have a social life again. I will never be financially independent, like I was for a brief period of time at an age younger than most because I worked so hard for it. And all of it was for this nothing. A lifetime of hard work, completely wasted. I wish I had just partied and screwed around my whole life - the outcome probably would have been better.

The despair that our young adults are feeling right now shows up very clearly in the survey numbers.

Back in 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”.

In 2014, 49 percent of them do.

That is an astounding shift in just six years.

Anyone that believes that the U.S. economy is “just fine” is crazy.

When you lose everything, it can plunge you into a spiral of depression and desperation that can be incredibly difficult to break free from.

Some people get tempted to give up completely, but that is never a good answer.

I hope that some people will take hope from a comment that a reader named Paul left on one of my recent articles…

Due to a lack of job security and all the bad economic news I have lapsed into a clinical depression. I have been susceptible to anxiety and depression in the past. However, I did not have to deal with a bout of depression for about 5 years. I am writing this as a wakeup call to other people who may be feeling what I am feeling right now. I am extremely angry about the rampant corruption, laziness, hubris, and ignorance that is permeating through society today. I have shifted between anger, apathy, and sadness. However, I have family that I must protect. One of my purposes in life is to give people hope. Also, below is a list of actions I took to combat my depression.

Take up a new hobby. Dancing helped me.

Take stock of how your life impacts others.

Prepare for harder times ahead. This is extremely empowering.

Engage in acts of kindness. I found a twenty dollar bill on the floor at a store. Instead of keeping it I gave it to lost and found at customer service. I also removed a sharp piece of wood from the middle of a residential street.
I remember the saying “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Feelings of sadness, anger, hopelessness are transitory. If you have thoughts about taking your life please get help.

Typing this has made me feel better.

I will continue to fight my depression. I am in a dark place right now. However, I am searching for the light.

Please pray for Paul and others just like him as they struggle with their pain.

The truth is that there is always hope.

If you are reading this and you are hurting, I want you to know that almost everyone hits a very deep low at some point.  But if you keep fighting, there is always a way for things to be turned around.

Personally, God took the broken pieces of my life and turned them into a beautiful thing, and He can do the same for you.

So never, ever, ever give up.

Yes, very challenging economic times are coming.

But our lives should not be defined by our material possessions anyway.

Personally, I am very glad to be alive during this time of human history.  When times are the darkest, that is when light is needed the most.  And times of great crisis also often bring great opportunity as well.

The years ahead are going to present an awesome opportunity to make a difference in this world.

Posted by Elvis on 03/23/14 •
Section Revelations • Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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