How Tough Are Economic Conditions?

The Florida Times Union, September 4, 2011 | Go to article overview

How Tough Are Economic Conditions?


This Labor Day weekend marks one of the most difficult periods for many Americans since the Great Recession.

Here is a list of startling statistics that brings this in focus:

The Great Recession is aptly named since this is the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The following statistics come from The Associated Press:

Wages down: As a percentage of the economy, wages and benefits have declined from 64 percent to 57.5 percent.

Jobless up: Unemployment has never been so high, 9.1 percent, this long after any recession since World War II. At this point in the last three recessions, unemployment was at 6.8 percent.

Veterans hurt: The jobless rate for veterans who served at any time since September 2001 was 13.3 percent in June.

Costs up: Socked by rising gasoline and food prices, average hourly wages, after accounting for inflation, were 1.6 percent lower in May than a year earlier.

Job deflation: New jobs pay less than the ones that vanished in the recession.

Debts still high: Household debt is 119 percent of annual after-tax income. That's down from 135 percent in 2007 but still too high.

Sticking to jobs: Workers don't dare leave. Just 1.7 million workers have quit their job each month this year, down from 2.8 million a month in 2007.

Consumer confidence low: It was at 87 at this point in the last three recessions. It's just 54.9 now. Only 26 percent of Americans expect the economy to get better in 12 months.

We're in the dumps: For 55 percent of us, it still feels like a recession, even if it is officially over. And for 29 percent of us, this feels like a depression.

Young hurting: Only 24 percent of teens have jobs compared to 42 percent in the summer of 2001. This is the worst mark since 1948.

Here is a sampling of some of our favorite quotes, facts, lists and statistics encountered in recent years.

SECOND LOOK AT STIMULUS

The word "stimulus" is not popular now, but it apparently kept the economy from falling off a cliff.

A study by Alan Blinder and Mark Zandi reported:

- It raised 2010 gross domestic product by 3.4 percent.

- It held the unemployment rate about 1.5 percentage points lower than it would have been.

- It added almost 2.7 million jobs to U.S. payrolls.

Few people are satisfied with the economy, and it's small consolation to say that it could have been worse.

It's a juggling act to prevent a deep drop while dealing with the national debt.

Blinder, a Princeton economist, is a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and a member of President Bill Clinton's board of economic advisers.

Zandi is chief economist of Moody's Analytics and was an adviser to John McCain's presidential campaign. …

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