Is the Recession Really Over

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    Your answer might depend on government data, or your answer might depend on what you see, when you look around. In many cases, these do not agree at all.

    If you own stock and bonds, the answer is affirmative. Just check out the results from Wall Street.

    For the rest of us, the answer is no.

    There is more than one piece of official data, although the one seized upon by the press is called U-3, shown below. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can only give us what it has. We are now closing in on the 6th anniversary of “the crash,” made far worse by the near refusal of the government to do anything to stimulate employment, except on Wall Street, and by the insane implementation of “austerity,” except of course for people with money, accompanied by shame and blame of everyone who lost out.

    Happy Days might be here again for banksters and Wall Street, but on Main Street, the situation is very different. Six years in on this never-ending awful recession and I can guarantee you – no matter what the Feds say – there never has been a recovery for a lot of people, decent, hard-working people who have worked and saved and contributed to the social good every day of their lives.

    All you have to do is to dig past the homogenized pabulum fed to you by the press. I am unable to upload the BLS table, but here is the link:

    Source:  http://www.bls.gov/news.releas…

    And here are the notes:

    NOTE: Persons marginally attached to the labor force are those who currently are neither working nor looking for work but indicate that they want and are available for a job and have looked for work sometime in the past 12 months. Discouraged workers, a subset of the marginally attached, have given a job-market related reason for

    not currently looking for work. Persons employed part time for economic reasons are those who want and are available for full-time work but have had to settle for a part-time schedule. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.

    U-3 Total unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force or “Official Unemployment Rate”  is currently at 6.2 percent, down from 7.7 percent a year ago, but nothing to cheer about. This is the one you hear and read about.

    But what about all the others didn’t get counted in the “official” rate?  These people burned through their unemployment, savings, sold their homes nd pulled every penny out of their savings and IRAs, and are now reduced literally to charity food banks and figuratively to eating cat food heated over Sterno.

    They were doing this in the dark because they could no longer afford candles.

    These people made good choices and in many cases worked all their lives.

    Are they all lazy, shiftless, bums, as some of what passes for our solons frequently claim, usually accompanied by demands that we eliminate unemployment insurance, eliminate the minimum wage, and repeal the ACA?

    I do not think so. These include a lot of people who worked hard, paid taxes, and played by the rules who are now considered, because they can’t find a job, to be less than garbage. They include the others who

    * Have exhausted their unemployment benefits;

    * Are working less than full time because they cannot get full time employment;

    * Have given up looking, because there are no jobs;

    * Have aged into Social Security Status; or

    * Have acquired Social Security Disability Insurance.

    The BLS has only recently added unemployed military veterans to the list.

    When you add all of them in the true unemployment number is a whopping 12.2 percent,  who want (or used to want) jobs that they cannot get, or no longer can physically do.

    If you were young when the crash came, you may not have ever been able to find a job that matches your skills.

    If you were in your  40s when the market tanked, you may never recover, even if you find those on call, minimum wage, zero hours guaranteed, no benefits jobs and work until the day they drop dead.

    If you were in your 50’s when the crash came, you stood-in a two income, no kids left at home, no pressing medical problems-a fair chance of at least surviving until you reached minimum social security age.

    Many people who were hale and hearty seven years ago – including your author-no longer are.

    The final degrading choice is between lying, or exaggerating at the margins about an all too real disability, or starving.

    Some choice. As a nation, we ought to be ashamed.  We have lost the capacity to even admit we’re ashamed at not being ashamed.