According to the Department of Labor, a smaller share of 16-19-year-olds are working than at any time since records began to be kept in 1948. Less than one-quarter of teens (24 percent) have jobs, compared to 42 percent in the summer of 2001. And in a story in the Wall Street Journal, we read this:
Two years ago, officials said, the worst recession since the Great Depression ended. The stumbling recovery has also proven to be the worst since the economic disaster of the 1930s. Across a wide range of measures—employment growth, unemployment levels, bank lending, economic output, income growth, home prices and household expectations for financial well-being—the economy’s improvement since the recession’s end in June 2009 has been the worst, or one of the worst, since the government started tracking these trends after World War II.
This merely confirms what those of us at CONTENTIONS have been writing about for many months now. Still, those nine words about the recovery — “the worst since the economic disaster of the 1930s” — are arresting. And underneath the data are countless human lives that are being disrupted, traumatized, and in some cases, ruined.
“Every single month you’re struggling, struggling, struggling,” Javier Toro, 49, a father of three, told the Journal. He makes $13 an hour as a customer service representative at a non-profit that administers a program offering free energy efficiency upgrades to homeowners. The program, funded by the 2009 stimulus law, ends in a few months as government funds dry up. He’s paying about $100 a month to keep current on $3,000 in credit card debt, but making no headway paying down principal. To make ends meet, he’s cut his cable and Internet service and the fixed telephone line to his rented home.
Toro added, “You don’t see when this is going to stop.”
Perhaps a good place to start is with a new president in January 2013.
I’m not one of those who believe a president is omnipotent when it comes to the economy; there are structural challenges that pre-date the Obama presidency. At the same time, I wouldn’t want to underestimate the enormous, negative ramifications the Obama Era has had on our economy. Obama’s policies have shattered the hopes and dreams of many of the people–young and old–whom he was elected to serve. They won’t, and they shouldn’t, forget that anytime soon.