July 6, 2011

The Myth of the Great Recovery

July 6, 2011. Washington. Today marks the second anniversary of the great economic recovery, or so the economic experts and the Federal government have declared. The only problem is, those two segments of America’s population are among the small sliver of the country that has experienced a recovery. The rest of the American people are still mired in the Great Recession of 2009.

But that hasn’t stopped the White House and Wall Street from celebrating. From their vantage point, the economy is down right rosy. President Obama continuously points out that unemployment is down slightly, a partial result of his almost $1 trillion dollar temporary bailout of the nations’ municipal employees unions. And at the same time, wealthy investors and corporate executives have much to gloat about too. Stock markets are up a staggering 50 percent since the recession’s end two years ago. Corporate profits are up 40 percent in that time period. And in appreciation for those abundant profits and stock prices, corporate executives now earn an average of $11.4 million dollars per year, or a whopping 343 times more than their typical employee.

In 2007, the stock market peaked at $14,093. On July 6, 2009, it had dropped to $8,146. Yesterday, the market closed at $12,571. Most would agree, that’s quite a recovery. Corporate CEO pay had an even more impressive turn-around, blowing right past 2007 prerecession peak. In ’07, CEO’s earned an average $8.4 million dollars per year. During the collapse of ’09, their pay rate fell to $7.2 million. Last year however, CEO pay jumped to $9.0 million dollars annually, again, quite a recovery.

The other 90 percent of the American population however, is left asking, what recovery?



The American people are no stranger to such out-of-touch sentiments. These government, media and Wall Street elites are the very same people who proudly proclaim other wildly misinformed slogans – slogans that sadly, were true only a generation ago.

  • America has the best healthcare system in the world. Unfortunately, we only have the most expensive healthcare system in the world. According to the last World Health Organization ranking, the US places an embarrassing 37th in the world.
  • America is the most free nation on Earth. Disastrously, the US actually imprisons the highest percentage of its own population of any country on Earth.
  • America has the best education system in the world. Actually, the most recent study performed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development ranked the US education system 25th in the area of math skills. By comparison, the CIA's World Fact Book shows the US ranking 43rd in education spending.
  • America is the richest country on Earth. Perhaps the poor math skills referenced above have something to do with it, but the United States of America is $14 trillion dollars in debt - $77 trillion if you include future obligations. Combined with an average personal debt measuring in the tens of thousands of dollars, along with each American’s share of their local debt, county debt and state debt, the American people have a net wealth that some estimate as high as a quarter million dollars below zero. With a net worth of minus $250,000 for each man, woman and child – wouldn’t that make the American people the poorest on Earth?

That brings us to today’s cheerful celebration of the two year anniversary of the end of the Great Recession. The richest ten percent of America’s population will be celebrating today, and for good reason. The other 90 percent of us will instead spend our day wondering where exactly this celebrated recovery is.

Unlike every other post-recession recovery since World War 2 where the unemployment rate dropped back down to an average of 6.8 percent, the unemployment rate in this recovery is still hovering at 9.1 percent. For those Americans that still have their jobs, they saw their average inflation-adjusted hourly wages actually fall over the previous 12 months. And for those still looking for work, consider this.

Middle class jobs earning between $19 and $31 per hour made up 40 percent of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. During the Great Recovery however, they only make up 27 percent of the newly created jobs. That number alone is a recipe for a disappearing middle class. If anyone is wondering where exactly the middle class went to, here’s another record-breaking statistic of the Great Recovery – almost 45 million Americans are now on food stamps, the most in history.

Recovery statistics are compliments of Associated Press.

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