Recession or Depression

Posted on April 29, 2014

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So called experts and our wonderful government have used the words recession and recovery a lot in the past few years. Are things really as we are told or the terrible things that happened in the depression just hidden from plain sight? As we go about our daily lives is the poverty and struggle just cleverly hidden around us?

In the 1930’s the struggle of the Great Depression was openly seen. From shanty towns popping up all over the country to the hungry standing in lines at the soup kitchens. Fast forward a few decades. Due to the events in the 30’s we have many government programs that help individuals get by in difficult times.

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By the 2000’s we had things like homeless shelters and food assistance programs strongly in place. When the economy tanked it hurt individuals and families across the country. We all know someone who may have lost their job or their home maybe lost everything. Or we saw stories on the news about the impact.

If you compare percentages from the 1930’s with those of the 2000’s many cities such as Detroit have almost no difference in unemployment rates and food assistance. So why do we see it so different today than we did almost 80 years prior? The reason is the type of help available is different.

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Today the mother and father who struggle to make it stand in line in front of you with their food card. They swipe it just like a debit card and you probably don’t notice. They aren’t standing in line at a soup kitchen. Your coworker who lost their home isn’t in a shanty town but in a tiny room with a tote of stuff at a homeless shelter because they couldn’t pay their rent or mortgage. It’s all hidden in plain sight.

In the 30’s unemployment was measured differently than it is today for a variety of reasons. Today the unemployment percentages we hear and see are only those who are currently receiving an unemployment check. It doesn’t include those who didn’t qualify, who have run out ot even those who are “underemployed.”

If we take all of those factors and add them to our current percentage rates in any given month we are very close or even exceeding Great Depression levels of unemployment. Some states since the economy tanked regularly exceed Great Depression levels such as California. Perhaps if we properly included all of the viable information and had real numbers we would be more concerned with the way things are going.

Hearing recovery so soon and so often seems a bit premature. Especially when you hear the increasing number of people who receive food assistance. How exactly are we in a recovery when those numbers CONTINUE to climb? More people qualifying means more people in need.

Each area of the country has their own peak months or season for jobs as people travel for sun or snow and such. It’s always been that way. However you hear recovery when these times come around. Less jobs than normal avaliable during these seasons prior to the “recession” adding to the overall jobs is not a recovery. It just helps the new numbers for the new month look better. Looking at the same time of the year in past years however says something very different.

I have a very hard time believing the numbers and the way things look when it’s all just disguised by different options than years past. New ways of reporting numbers. Maybe it’s to protect us as a people, I see it more as a way to put a band aid on a bullet wound. People can’t change what they cannot see. 

 

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Posted in: Opinion