Late last month, I spoke with a former student of mine who told me that he was working two jobs in an effort to make ends meet and support his very young family. He temporarily had taken a leave of absence from school in an effort to get his personal affairs in order. He also said that he felt that, despite being fiscally responsible and doing all he could to meet basic living expenses, he saw himself as constantly swimming upstream being thrashed around by undercurrents in the water.
His story is not an aberration. The fact is that the current economy still is having an adverse effect on millions of Americans throughout the nation.
We recognize that the nation’s economic situation, while gradually improving, is far from robust. People in all regions of the nation still are struggling. USA Today finance reporter John Wagoner recently cited a fall 2013 report released by the Federal Reserve Board on August 7 titled Report on The Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households that indicated that a large percentage of American families had economically rebounded from the recession that took place from December 2007 to June 2009. The crisis was the harshest downturn in the economy since the Great Depression.
Some of the findings in the report were:
· 25% of people polled stated that they were just getting by
· 34% said that they were worse off than they were five years ago
· 13% stated that they were having severe economic issues
· 34% said that their economic situation was roughly similar to what it was in 2008
That being said, 60% of those interviewed in the same study indicated that they were doing fine or living comfortably.
Other findings were:
· 24% of those polled had significant student loan debt
· 84% were concerned about out of pocket costs for health care
· 18% had gone without seeing a doctor
· 43% said that they would be unable to cover a major out-of-pocket expense
In regards to the future prospects:
· 31% reported that they had no retirement savings or pension
· 49% said that they had made little to financial planning for the future
· 40% said that they would have to delay retirement
There have been a number of studies that have demonstrated that millennials (young people under 34) have been particularly hard hit and affected by the current economic climate gripping our nation. In fact, unlike previous generations, a large percentage of young people have not even had the opportunity to work at an entry level job. This fact in and of itself is troubling. Lower income people over 55 are facing real economic adversity as well.
These statistics are alarming and indicate that the economy is trickling at too slow a rate. Moreover, it demonstrates far too many Americans are just two paychecks or one bad major accident (health related or otherwise ) or misfortune from having their lives turned upside down or, in some cases, damaged to an extent from which may take years, decades, if ever to be able to recover from. Such a situation is cause for real alarm.
We as a nation can and must do better.