My son Will works for a major multi-national corporation and was informed yesterday that the area he supervises is being shut down nationwide. Thankfully, he's being transferred to another supervisory job within the company with comparable salary and benefits. But a whole lot of other people in America aren't so lucky.
The recession this country has been going through for the past several years has created the worst job crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Twenty-five million people are unemployed and the average length of unemployment of over nine months is at an all-time high. I hear people say that anyone who wants a job can get one but with four job seekers for every available job in America, this just isn't so.
There are all sorts of consequences to being unemployed in today's society. For example, the longer people are out of work, the less likely they are to find a job. In fact, companies are openly advertising for the few jobs they have available that only currently employed people need to apply. College students graduating with a degree are moving back home with their parents because they can't find a job. And even for those still working, median incomes have fallen over 7 percent in the last decade.
Long-term unemployment often leads to bankruptcy and there have been 5 million personal bankruptcies filed since 2008. A person can only draw unemployment benefits for 99 weeks. If they haven't been re-employed by then, they often times simply quit looking and are no longer officially counted as unemployed. Long-term unemployment has compounded the mortgage crisis. Six million homes have fallen into foreclosure since 2008. A record 45 million people are now on food stamps. These kinds of personal crises cause physical and psychological problems. Calls to the national suicide prevention hotline have more than tripled since 2007. The suburbs are the fastest growing poverty areas in the United States and the unemployment rate nationwide is still above 8 percent.
And all of this is exacerbated because no one has a solution and everybody blames somebody else. When George W. Bush was President and the economy started losing jobs, the conservative pundits said that the president wasn't responsible for job growth or loss. Now they say he is.
Others blame the European economic crisis for our own problems, contending that the world truly has evolved into a new world order as predicted by George H.W. Bush several years ago.
Even Warren Buffet, the stock-market magician from Omaha has turned bearish, saying this past week that the economy is not improving as much as he thought it would.
I don't know who's to blame or whose fault it is. I know that we're lucky to live in a state that has very low unemployment, as is the case with most of the states in the heartland and, consequently, we've been spared most of this heartache. The areas most devastated by this economy are on the coasts and the upper Midwest.
You can blame whoever you want to blame but the facts of the matter are obvious. We're in a full-blown national crisis and there's no real end in sight.