“Booming” Economy Leaves Millions Behind: Part One

Despite contradictory news headlines every week, the rich and their political, media, and think tank representatives continue to work overtime to foster the illusion that the American economy is strong, booming, and resilient. The future, according to them, looks bright.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Not only does the economic data used by official circles rest on self-serving definitions and paint a rosier picture of reality than what actually exists, but the facts today show that tens of millions of Americans are being left behind by the so-called “booming” economy. At this time:

  1. About 7 out of 10 Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.
  1. One in three U.S. workers are earning less than $15 an hour.
  1. The problem of joblessness for Black men is on average three times worse than what is generally assumed.
  1. 52% of women, ages 50 and up, say the economy isn’t working well for them.
  1. Three-Quarters of Americans say the economy is on the ‘Wrong Track’
  1. The student debt crisis so far has led 43 million borrowers to collectively owe around $1.6 trillion.
  1. 35% of Americans lose sleep over their debt.
  1. The average American household will spend $5,200 more this year to buy the same goods and services it purchased last year.
  1. A new measurement suggests that the U.S. undercounts people in poverty by millions.
  1. Between February 2020 (prior to the pandemic) and February 2022, the labor force participation rate (LFPR) declined 2.1 percentage points, from 63.4% to 62.3%. That translates into 3 million fewer workers today. The LFPR was at a peak of 67.3% in early 2000 (more than 20 years ago).
  1. Food inflation will hit millions
  1. From February 2021 to February 2022, inflation rose by 7.9 percent to a 40-year high, and food prices also increased by 7.9 percent over those 12 months.
  1. The Feeding America network reported a 60% increase in demand early in the pandemic, and continues to see steady or increased demand.
  1. Food banks and pantries across the U.S. are stretched so thin by soaring operating costs that they’re having to ration what goes out to feed the nation’s hungry.
  1. One in eight people in the US do not have access to nutritious food.
  1. The percentage of people who say that now is a “bad time to buy” a home jumped to 73%, another record-worst in the data going back to 2010.
  1. Officially, the Federal Reserve balance sheet now stands at nearly $9 trillion. The real figure is higher.
  1. Three men own as much as the bottom half of Americans.
  1. The velocity of money (V), ((The velocity of money is the rate at which money changes hands. The higher the velocity, the better the economy.)) an important economic metric, has declined from a high of about 2.2 in the 1990s to a bit below 1.5 before COVID-19, and to 1.1 during the pandemic.
  1. The soaring cost of diesel is rippling through the global economy.

Would these harsh conditions exist if the economy were booming, strong, and resilient? How can the economy be in great shape if tens of millions are experiencing miserable conditions? Why do the rich and their cheerleaders in every sphere routinely disinform the polity about the economy?

The rich and their entourage remain out of touch and are determined to advance a retrogressive agenda that will bring greater tragedies for the people if it is not opposed every step of the way.

While many more statistics and percentages depicting miserable conditions could be given, humanity must look at the entire ensemble of human relations, that is, the whole of human social relations, and not just parts, not just numbers and percentages, to address a large and pressing historic problem. Objectively, these problems should have been solved long ago. There is no reason for millions to go hungry in 2022.

The point is not to reduce inequality, poverty, debt, or gas emissions a little or to increase the food supply and wages so that fewer people are hungry. Yes, these will help. But the need is for a complete reset, a new direction, that favors the people as a whole and puts them center-stage. This means putting human rights, not the narrow pursuit of maxim profit by the rich, at the center of everything and taking a new fresh path free of parasitic arrangements that favor even fewer people every year. The rich and their representatives are not going to usher in this new direction because it would mean making themselves completely obsolete. It is up to working people, women, students, youth, senior citizens, and everyone else to collectively bring in the alternative.

Shawgi Tell is author of the book Charter School Report Card. He can be reached at stell5@naz.edu.. Read other articles by Shawgi.