We keep hearing that the economy is recovering, if it hasn’t already recovered, from the disastrous economic climate which began with the crash of 2008. Yet many Americans still feel insecure about the future. They are not imagining things: hard statistics unfortunately supports this negative feeling.
• The middle class is getting smaller while the lower class and richest Americans are growing in numbers. Today about 50 million live below the poverty line, the largest number in US history. As many as 40 percent of all Americans are forced to spend over 50 percent of their incomes on food and housing.
• The shrinking middle class is driving consumer fear of spending. According to the Commerce Department retail sales slowed by 0.3 percent last month. Not a good sign when Wall Street has predicted a 0.1 percent gain. Car sales were down by 2.1 percent, and restaurants are among the countries weakest sectors.
• Incomes have been dropping. When you adjust for inflation, even states in which minimum wage was increased are experiencing a lowering of wages.
• The amount of debt that individuals are carrying continues to climb. This is a major issue when we realize that auto loans are valued at over one trillion dollars. The average balance per person is $12,000, using almost 8 percent of the average borrower’s disposable income.
• Taxes are eating up more income than ever. Tax freedom day, defined as the day of the year after January 1st in which the yearly tax bill has been paid, arrived on April 24 this year. Translation: all Americans together had to work 114 days during 2016 just to pay the national tax bill.