It's Official, The Great American Dream is No More

The John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, has a new study, The Shattered American Dream: Unemployed Workers Lose Ground, Hope, and Faith in their Futures. The study concludes what we already know, the Great American Dream is long gone, replaced with strife, struggle and financial pain.

A new survey of unemployed American workers documents dramatic erosion in the quality of life for millions of Americans. Their financial reserves are exhausted, their job prospects nil, their family relations stressed, and their belief in government’s ability to help them is negligible. They feel hopeless and powerless, unable to see their way out of the Great Recession that has claimed 8.5 million jobs.

The survey shows that only one-quarter of those first interviewed in August 2009 have found full-time jobs some 15 months later. And most of those who have become reemployed have taken jobs they did not really want for less pay. Moreover, the recession has wreaked havoc on the retirement plans of older workers.

From the survey, of the third who found a job, 61% believe they will never recover financially, 45% had to take a significant pay cut, with 60% of those losing over 20% of their former income.

What’s disturbing is how many have given up at least one essential – 80% of our panel has spent less on either food, housing, or health care. In fact, 51% of our panelists do not have health care benefits; this is true of 60% of the long-term unemployed.

The report has all sorts of graphs and polling and it's quite bleak. Amazingly enough, it's rare to hear these kind of statistics on the news, even though the lack of good jobs is a national emergency. We hear about corporate profits, ipads and iphones, but when it comes to the worse employment crisis since the Great Depression and what the lack of good jobs is doing to America in addition to Americans, those facts barely gets a blip. This is not the New Normal. There is nothing normal about it, immoral maybe.

The Conclusion from the report:

One of the casualties of the Great Recession has been a core American principle since the founding of the nation — that if people work hard and play by the rules, they can get ahead. Now, the majority of the unemployed do not believe that simple hard work will guarantee success. They feel powerless, and voice little confidence in the government’s ability to help them.

To read the actual report, click this link. You might consider sharing the report link with your friends. Everyone should read this.

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What did we expect?

Anyone who's seen my YouTube videos* knows I'm sympathetic, but--good grief--what do these unemployed Americans expect when they support foreign economies, rather than our own, by spending their money on foreign-made products?

Most of our economy is decided by the American consumer--arguably the single most powerful economic force in the world. This is why "free trade" is really code language for "unfettered access to the American consumer."

Foreigners have our jobs and money largely because we handed them over. The Chinese (the People's Republic of China, the Chinese Communist Party, and the People's Liberation Army) got their $ trillions from American consumers. There are no real
bargains at Wal-Mart. Every "Made in China" price tag includes a piece of our children's future--and our current unemployment tragedy.

Perhaps ironically, Confucius provided the answer when he said, "The way out is through the door."

Do the math:

Suppose every American simply reallocated 1 dollar per day, spending 1 dollar less on foreign-made goods, and 1 dollar more on American-made goods. After a year, we’d have 110 billion dollars, which could mean more than 2 million new jobs paying $50,000 per year.

Other factors are involved—-costs, profits, US vs. foreign ownership—-but the principle stays true, so let’s keep this simple and make our point. Even one dollar per day can make a big difference.

Reallocate 10 dollars per person per day—-from foreign to American-made goods—-and in a year we’d have 1.1 trillion dollars, or potentially more than 20 million new jobs paying $50,000 per year.

It's not so danged complicated. But we can't wait for our government to lead the way. When American business went multinational, our government followed. American consumers will just have to start using their heads.

*"College Girl, Economy, Jobs" and "Dollar to the Giant"