The Economic Collapse
April 23, 2012
If you are in college right now, you will most likely either be unemployed or working a job that only requires a high school degree when you graduate. The truth is that the U.S. economy is not coming anywhere close to producing enough jobs for the hordes of new college graduates that are entering the workforce every year. In 2011, 53 percent of all Americans with a bachelor’s degree under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Millions upon millions of young college graduates feel like the system has totally failed them. They worked hard in school all their lives, they went into huge amounts of debt in order to get the college education that they were told they “must have” in order to get a good job, but after graduation they found that there were only a handful of good jobs for the huge waves of college graduates that were entering the “real world”. All over America, college graduates can be found waiting tables, flipping burgers and working behind the register at retail stores. Unfortunately, the employment picture in America is not going to get significantly better any time soon.
All over the United States, “middle class jobs” are being replaced by “low income jobs” and young college graduates are being hurt by this transition more than almost anyone else. Massive numbers of young college graduates are now working jobs that do not even require a high school degree. Some of the statistics about young college graduates are absolutely astounding. The following is from a recent CNBC article….
In the last year, they were more likely to be employed as waiters, waitresses, bartenders and food-service helpers than as engineers, physicists, chemists and mathematicians combined (100,000 versus 90,000). There were more working in office-related jobs such as receptionist or payroll clerk than in all computer professional jobs (163,000 versus 100,000). More also were employed as cashiers, retail clerks and customer representatives than engineers (125,000 versus 80,000).
Can you imagine working really hard all throughout high school and college and always getting good grades and then ending up as a bartender?
Sadly, many hard working college graduates cannot seem to find a decent job no matter how hard they try. The following is one example from the CNBC article mentioned above….
“I don’t even know what I’m looking for,” says Michael Bledsoe, who described months of fruitless job searches as he served customers at a Seattle coffeehouse. The 23-year-old graduated in 2010 with a creative writing degree.
Initially hopeful that his college education would create opportunities, Bledsoe languished for three months before finally taking a job as a barista, a position he has held for the last two years. In the beginning he sent three or four resumes day. But, Bledsoe said, employers questioned his lack of experience or the practical worth of his major. Now he sends a resume once every two weeks or so.
Have you ever been there?
Have you ever sent out resumes week after week, month after month, only to get absolutely nowhere?
Many recent college graduates are being advised by “career counselors” that they should go back and “get more education”.
But is that really the answer? The truth is that there are lots and lots of unemployed and underemployed Americans with advanced degrees too. For example, a recent Business Insider article profiled a law school graduate named Erin that is actually on food stamps….
She remains on food stamps so her social life suffers. She can’t afford a car, so she has to rely on the bus to get around Austin, Texas, where she lives. And currently unable to pay back her growing pile of law school debt, Gilmer says she wonders if she will ever be able to pay it back.
“That has been really hard for me,” she says. “I have absolutely no credit anymore. I haven’t been able to pay loans. It’s scary, and it’s a hard thing to think you’re a lawyer but you’re impoverished. People don’t understand that most lawyers actually aren’t making the big money.”
But what “more education” will do is that it will get you into even more debt. Student loan debt can be one of the cruelest forms of debt, because it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.
As I wrote about a few days ago, total student loan debt in the United States recently surpassed the one trillion dollar mark. Students keep on racking up student loan debt in the hope that they will find “the American Dream” at the end of the rainbow.
Sadly, many students do everything “right” and still end up in the middle of a nightmare.
But it is not just young college graduates that are suffering in this economy.
As I wrote about a while back, the U.S. economy is not producing enough jobs for anyone at this point.
The mainstream media keeps telling us that unemployment is going down, but the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that are employed is not increasing. In March 2010, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job. In March 2012, 58.5 percent of all working age Americans had a job.
Does that sounds like improvement?
Of course not.
Unlike what we have seen after every other recession in the post-World War II era, the employment to population ratio is not bouncing back, and that is really bad news.
The main reason for this is because of the bad economy, but also it is important to understand that we are transitioning away from an “employment economy”.
Today, most large corporations view employees as very expensive “liabilities”. The goal for most large corporations is to minimize those “liabilities” as much as possible. In fact, these days some large corporations lay off huge numbers of workers even while they are making huge profits at the same time.
Once upon a time, Henry Ford made a conscious decision to pay his workers enough money so that they could afford to buy the cars that they were making.
Today, most corporations simply do not care about the living standards of their workers. They simply want to maximize profits to the fullest extent possible.
Many small businesses would like to hire more workers, but the federal government has made hiring workers so complicated and so expensive that it has become exceedingly difficult to make a profit on a worker. Most of the time it is simply easier to try to do more with what you already have.
The number of Americans that can work a job (“just over broke”) and still live “the American Dream” is steadily shrinking. Increasingly, the financial rewards in our economy are being funneled to the very top of organizations and workers are finding that their living standards continue to slowly go down.
At corporations that belong to the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index, CEOs earn380 times what the average worker makes at those companies. In 1980, CEOs only earned 42 times what the average worker made at those companies.
A fundamental shift is happening in our economy and it is not going to be reversed any time soon. Workers are not valued at most companies anymore. No matter how much of yourself you give to your company, when the day comes that you become “disposable”, you will be cast aside as so much rubbish.
That is why I try to encourage people to start their own businesses and to be their own bosses. There is no job security anymore. The job that you have today could be gone tomorrow.
While the president has been urging “insourcing,” the government has been sending money to the Philippines to train foreign workers for jobs in English-speaking call centers.
According to New York Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop and North Carolina Republican Rep. Walter Jones, this is unacceptable and “shocking.”
The pair are calling on the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to immediately suspend what is known as the Job Enabling English Proficiency (JEEP) program.
Can you believe that?
Over and over again, our politicians talk about the need to keep jobs in the United States and then they go out and do things that have the exact opposite effect.
It is truly maddening.
So what are the hordes of American workers that cannot find jobs supposed to do?
Well, one thing we are definitely seeing is a huge rise in the number of Americans that are dependent on the government.
For example, at the end of the Reagan administration the ratio of workers on Social Security disability to active workers was about 2 percent.
Today, it is over 6 percent.
Another federal program that is experiencing explosive growth is food stamps.
It is so sad to see what is happening to America. Our economy is being dismantled all around us and the future looks incredibly bleak.
Right now there are millions upon millions of Americans that are sitting at home wallowing in despair. They don’t understand why nobody will hire them and they are rapidly running out of options.
The following is a comment that a reader left on one of my recent articles about the middle class….
I cannot believe my present situation…
I worked hard in school and college so that I could escape the low income uneducated mess I grew up in.
I made all the correct decisions with my career, finances, etc. I cannot figure out how I got to where I am at now.
In late 2008 I was laid off in the IT field. I was a go-getter, and I didn’t let anyone tell me the economy would make it difficult to find a job. I had another within 4 weeks.
Was laid off from that job last year. I qualified for unemployment, but then my employer decides to bring a bunch of lawyers and fight my eligibility. After I won again, they appealed again. I finally couldn’t afford to keep paying attorney fees. I finally lost the appeal. I had to pay all that money back.
I’m still trying to find a job in my field. Being the go-getting I am, I immediately took a job waiting tables which amounted to a 75% pay-cut.
I had saved 6 months of expenses and that is completely dry. I have completely drained my retirement and savings. Still cannot find a livable wage job after almost a decade in my field.
Things are slowly going into default and it feels utterly hopeless and stressful. My pristine credit rating is gone, my savings and everything I worked for is gone. I haven’t missed a payment on my mortgage, but it is coming. I can’t cut anything more than I already have.
I just can’t figure out how this could have happened to me. I played by the rules and made all the right choices. I skipped vacations and time off to prove I was a good worker and had what it took to be a valuable employee.
I really am just at a loss at this point. I’m single and have no family. This is really make-or-break for me. I have no fallback plan. The feeling of failure is just gut-wrenching.
Please say a prayer for that reader and for all of the other hard working Americans out there that are desperate to find a job.
If you are at the end of your rope, please do not give up. Even in the darkest moments, there is always a way to turn things around if you will just keep on fighting.
Sadly, way too many people are giving up on life because of the economy. In Europe, economic conditions have deteriorated so badly that there has been a dramatic increase in suicides. The following is from a recent article in the New York Times….
The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”
When the next major economic downturn happens in the United States, we will probably see a similar thing happen here too.
But people need to realize that our lives are not about how much stuff we own.
Even if every single thing is taken away from you and you are left with nothing that does not mean that your life is over.
Even if you have not been able to find a job for years, that does not mean that you should give up.
In life, everyone gets knocked down.
But unless you are dead, there is always a way to get things turned around in a more positive direction.
One thing that I have learned in life is that you must never, ever, ever, ever give up.
The years ahead are going to be really hard for the global economy, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be horrible years for you.
The years ahead can be the very best years of your entire life, but that will never happen if you decide to simply give up.
This article was posted: Monday, April 23, 2012 at 2:43 am