Michael Snyder, Contributor
The American Dream is being systematically destroyed right in front of our eyes and most Americans don’t even realize what is happening. In the old days, if you were a hard worker and you played by the rules you could always find a good job. That good job would enable you to buy a house, buy at least one car and support a family. It would also enable you to take a couple of vacations each year and buy some nice things for your family. After working for 30 or 40 years you would look forward to a comfortable retirement.
But these days fewer and fewer Americans are able to enjoy the American Dream. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a breathtaking pace. Our economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for all of us anymore, and an increasing percentage of the jobs that are being produced pay 10 dollars an hour or less. The cost of living continues to rise steadily every single year while wages do not. Close to half of all American workers are living month to month, and many American families have gone deep into debt as they struggle to pay the bills. Millions more Americans are falling into poverty each year and dependence on the government is at an all-time high.
Something is fundamentally wrong with our economy. It is not working the way that it used to, and the middle class is being absolutely shredded. Most American families are finding it harder and harder to make it through each passing year, and unless a miracle happens things are going to continue to get even harder.
#1 As the economy has declined, the number of Americans living month to month has soared. At this point, millions upon millions of Americans are living without any financial cushion whatsoever. If you can believe it, one recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies. Another survey found that 42 percent of all American workers are currently living paycheck to paycheck.
#2 Thanks to horribly oppressive regulations, red tape and taxes, it is incredibly difficult to run a successful small business in America today. According to the Christian Science Monitor, more than half of all small business owners in America cannot even afford to put food on the table from their small business earnings….
A shocking figure from the Wave survey relates to how well the business owners were able to meet their basic needs through their business. An incredible 52% of American small business owners can’t put food on the table through the earnings from their business over the past twelve months.
Another recent survey found that 23 percent of all small business owners have gone an entire year without pay.
#3 In recent years U.S. families have experienced an astounding decline in wealth. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
#4 The U.S. economy is not producing nearly enough jobs for all of us at this point. For example, it was reported that 20,000 people applied for just 877 jobs at a Hyundai plant in Montgomery, Alabama earlier this year. Sadly, the official U.S. unemployment rate has been above 8 percent for 40 months in a row, and this is supposed to be “the recovery”.
#5 Eight million Americans have “left the labor force” since the recession supposedly ended. If those Americans were added back into the unemployment figures, the unemployment rate would besomewhere up around 12 percent.
#7 The United States was once ranked #1 in the world in GDP per capita. Today we have slipped to #12.
#8 Just paying for the basics is becoming increasingly difficult for many Americans. For example, there are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
#10 Health insurance continues to become more expensive. Health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#11 As the cost of living goes up, wages continue to stagnate or even fall in many areas of the country. Sadly, this is part of a long-term trend. According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
#12 The percentage of low paying jobs just continues to increase. At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less. If that sounds like a high figure, that is because it is. Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
#13 Over the last several decades, the debt burdens being taken on by average Americans have absolutely exploded. All of this debt is making things incredibly difficult on American families. The following is from a recent CNN article….
In 1983, the bottom 95% had 62 cents of debt for every dollar they earned, according to research by two International Monetary Fund economists. But by 2007, the ratio had soared to $1.48 of debt for every $1 in earnings.
#14 During this time of the year, there are large numbers of new college graduates entering the work force. Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough jobs for all of them. In fact, approximately 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed last year.
#15 Many young adults have found that they can’t make it on their own at all in this economy. Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
#16 Wealth in this country is becoming highly concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. Today, the wealthiest 1 percent of all Americans own more wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
#18 The rise in poverty is hitting children particularly hard. If you can believe it, the poverty rate for children living in the United States is now 22 percent. Large numbers of children in this country would go hungry without assistance. At this point, approximately one-fourth of all American children are enrolled in the food stamp program.
#19 The more money the government spends on poverty, the more poverty seems to increase. The federal government spent about 80 billion dollars on the food stamp program last year, but they can’t even tell us how that money is being spent.
#20 While Barack Obama has been president, the number of Americans on food stamps has increased from 32 million to 46 million. But the Obama administration has decided that is not enough so they are spending taxpayer money on ads that will encourage even more Americans to go on food stamps….
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been running radio ads for the past four months encouraging those eligible to enroll. The campaign is targeted at the elderly, working poor, the unemployed and Hispanics.
The department is spending between $2.5 million and $3 million on paid spots, and free public service announcements are also airing. The campaign can be heard in California, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and the New York metro area.
#21 As the middle class shrinks, the ranks of the poor continue to expand. Sadly, at this point 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#22 More Americans are becoming dependent on the government than ever before. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, 49.1 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial benefits from the government.
This article first appeared here at the American Dream. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.