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No wonder many think the recession didn't end

A writer compares how well people did after the Great Depression with today's post-Great Recession. It doesn't look good for us.

By MSN Money Partner Jun 16, 2014 2:12PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyIt's been five years since the Great Recession and the American economy appears to still be in neutral.

Man with empty pockets © Digital Vision Ltd.A recent column on Al Jazeera America by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston said that if you focus solely on the short term, you may think the economy is improving. But look further back and it's clear that most Americans were in some ways better off after the Great Depression than they are today, Johnston said.

It may be jarring to hear that the vast majority of Americans, the 90 percent, enjoyed bigger income gains in the 1930s than in recent years, but that is what the data show.
The data also indicate tandem increases in both want and wealth, with the vast majority worse off in 2013 than in 2009, while those at the apex of the economy are enjoying a much larger — and growing — share of national income.

With the richest 1 percent of Americans capturing 93 percent of all income gains since the recession ended, it's understandable that the majority of Americans (57 percent) think we're still in a recession, economist and Siena College economics professor Aaron Pacitti wrote on The Huffington Post.

Because jobs and wages have improved at a snail's pace, Americans simply aren't feeling the effects of the recovery. "Living standards, especially for young Americans, are worse than any point in recent history," Pacitti said.

Johnston painted the following bleak picture of how Americans have fared since the recession ended:

  • Jobs. "With population growth taken into account, America needs more than 145 million jobs to surpass 2008's employment percentage," Johnston said.
  • Wages. The average hourly wage for private sectors went up in 2013, but only by 12 cents per hour. "More revealing, the average hourly pay of $20.13 last year was smaller than in 1972 and 1973," Johnston said. So people had to work 52 weeks in 2013 to make what workers earned in 49 weeks in 1972 and 1973, adjusted for inflation.
  • Income declines. About 90 percent of Americans experienced an income decline of about 2 percent in 2012 compared with 2009, when adjusting for inflation. The majority of Americans had 31 percent more income in 1936 than in 1933.

It's understandable why some economists, like Pacitti, said America has moved from the Great Recession to the Great Stagnation. Johnston said:

To sum up, there are some tiny improvements in the job and income numbers, but only if you limit the analysis to the last few years. Look back a decade or four decades or even eight decades, and the story changes from an America of growing prosperity to one of falling incomes, not enough jobs and ever fatter slices of the income pie for the elite.

What has your experience been since the Great Recession ended? Do you feel like you're better or worse off?

More on Money Talks News

Jun 16, 2014 8:44PM
5.5 years of obama policies has caused this.  Remember how many times he was going to "focus like a lazer beam" on creating jobs?

Remember the "summer of recovery" promised 5 years ago?

Remember shovel ready jobs?

Meanwhile wage gap has increased under obama and obamas rich crony banker friends get richer and he bails out GM and now they create crap cars with millions of recalls.

Obama doesn't want things to get better.  This is his plan to make things more equal, by keeping him and his freinds rich, and making the middle class poor

Jun 16, 2014 4:54PM
The most important question Obama has asked this weekend was

       IS THIS A PAR 4  ?
Jun 16, 2014 8:11PM
If you really think the recession has ended put your money were your mouth is and jerk all QE now!
Jun 16, 2014 5:02PM
Agree - even with a very good income, you start to notice after ten years at the same level.  But I'm thankful I'm still working.
Jun 16, 2014 8:34PM
If you want any recovery at all, never put a bonehead liberal in the white house. All liberals think of businesses as charity organizations. They don't care that you work hard and have a master's degree out of Harvard. They only care that doctors and CEOs get paid as much as the ones whose only skill is operating a cash register. This country would be better off without them.
Jun 16, 2014 6:48PM

What has your experience been since the Great Recession ended? Do you feel like you're better or worse off?

If the article is using the year 2009 as the official end of the Great Recession, then my answer is: I'm better off now, but only by a few points.  Unfortunately, I was still in college in 2009 and racking up student loan debt like a panic-stricken idiot.

Now, I'm 3 years a graduate with a bachelor's degree in architecture working 3 jobs: one full-time, one part-time, and one temp-job.  And while those jobs pay the bills, and I've successfully stopped increasing my debt, the fact remains that I need others to start building again, so I can have one full-time job as an architect-in-training and actually have some disposable income to my name.

But, that won't happen; too many people in the same boat as me: multiple jobs or no job, they can't spend their money at their discretion.  It's just too risky.

Jun 16, 2014 4:38PM
I think I will start a MyRA with my extra 12 cents.
Jun 16, 2014 8:09PM
I'm better off than 2009.  But, if Obama and Democrats weren't in control the last 5 years, I'd be MUCH BETTER OFF.
Jun 17, 2014 12:32AM
Summer of recovery..........Rev 6 !!!
Jun 17, 2014 8:10AM
I feel stagnation....I haven't lost much but haven't moved forward either....oh, and it's been 6 years not 5 it a recession now if you wish....but 2016 onwards when were at war and finally acknowledging the depression....I imagine the entire era from 2008-2022 will be re-classified as America's 2nd Depression.
Jun 17, 2014 8:20AM
Neither party is going to solve this problem.  Most Americans are working and many are retiring.  The elites will continue to rule regardless.  The public is comatose.  
Jun 17, 2014 7:49AM

Obama and his administration have spent more money than anybody in the history of the world.  Can anyone tell me where that money went?  Honestly, I don't see things any better than before this President.  Roads, gas, food, housing, medical care, our stance in the world, nothing is better.  Nothing.  Good lies though...

Jun 16, 2014 6:46PM
Funny how Corporations can give CEO types record Payout packages and Benefits while doing just the opposite for everyone else. Record Cash Hoards even after Record amounts of Corporate Stock Buybacks and Dividends enacted over the last Decade or more. Meanwhile the real Workers are told to make do with much less during the same Time-Frame.

If not for the printing Presses which are the Major Central Banks, many of the Corporations now seeing Record Success would be faltering instead of thriving. The thanks they give for that  continual Corporate Welfare, moving offshore to bogus Tax Havens who have done nothing to Little to protect Americans nor the World. In fact, many of these Tax Havens are the same Countries that were Bailed out during the Great Recession. These are literally Bankrupt entities that will have to be bailed out again. Let the Corporate entities avoiding Taxes Bail them out.

Jun 16, 2014 4:40PM

The masses have been falling for the government solution to each economic issue for decades.  The real result is always more corporate protection and welfare. 
 - The C suite gets wealthier and the masses complain again.
 - The C suite begins to move investment and profits offshore and the masses complain again.
 - The C suite individuals then start to renounce citizenship ---- AND so on.

LEARN SOMETHING before you destroy yourselves.  Let the market ax swing.
Jun 17, 2014 1:11AM
When Central Bankers are printing Literally Trillions just to bailout and restore all the lost Gains of the SuperRich from the Great Recession, of course everyone else suffers. When you allow all Major Corporations to Reset their Interest Debt levels without having to pass any of those savings on to Actual Workers, any hopes of a Real and Lasting Recovery Suffers. When Corporations use the Global Fed Printing Presses to mostly engage in Buyouts, Stocks and or other Corporations, workers suffer.

We have just witness over the lass Decade, the biggest Transfer of Wealth off the Backs of the Working Poor and Fading Middle-Class in World History. Yet these elitists Crooks and Thieves have the Nerve to accuse everyone else of Class Warfare. Every President in Modern Times is Clueless because each and everyone of them are Bought and Paid for by Big Corporate America. Once any Government official leaves office, there are FAT Corporate Jobs waiting for them. Meanwhile the rest of us suffer from their continual manipulation and corruption.

Jun 17, 2014 8:41AM
"My dad told me how it was  during the depression-----He farmed--with all the neighbors helping each other----People were more self-reliant than today----nobody asked or got a hand-out."

Well by definition, if you are a Farmer among other Farmers, that section of the Nation should be self-reliant. However that just ignores that we don't live in a static Society. Otherwise folks would still be living in Caves making Wood Fires. Now we have Mega Farms that have crowed out the little guy. We have sprawling Cities which have a totally different Dynamic.

Every Generation faces different challenges. Ours will be the Growth of places like China and India plus the piling on of Debt. By the way, folks have asking for and getting hand-outs from the Government of one sort of another, since the Inception of the Union. Folks just prefer not to talk about it. Makes for a better Story that way. Some folks got aid, others have to make do because of limited resources. Hardly didn't mean they wouldn't have asked for it if it was available.
Jun 16, 2014 5:29PM

Global populations increase. Global land mass, especially the littoral ("seashore") landmass decreases. Global natural resources decrease. Global demand for natural resorces increase. Global warming from whatever cause inhibits liveability.


Financial systems are of no moment in this population catastrophe. To focus on them is to lamely whistle past the graveyard.

Jun 17, 2014 1:17AM
Ongoing Revisionism on this posting Board is literally beyond belief.
support of ideas and beliefs that differ from and try to change accepted ideas and beliefs especially in a way that is seen as wrong or dishonest ..."

The World Economy didn't begin the Day Obama won the election back in 2008. All the Manipulations/Corruption that spurred the Great Recession had already taken place. Now we can debate all day long what those actions should have been but folks stating how they would be much better off if those actions had not been taken better go back and review the actual facts on the ground.

You better look at the timeline of what happen in Ireland and their Housing Bubble, long before Obama was elected. You better go back and read about the massive $500-700Trillion in Toxic Derivatives, also before Obama was elected. Just as America was spending like a Drunken Sailor before the Great Recession, so was the rest of the World. Now here's the irony of it all, it has taken even more spending like a Drunken Sailor, to delay the inevitable. 3 Central Banks already printing already to the Tune of $10Trillion and counting. It's easy to Blame Obama for everything, when the posters who believe that are dumber then ish.

Jun 17, 2014 8:17AM
Reagan tripled the National Debt by the Time he left Office. Bush Doubled the Debt by the Time he left office but his policies also left the Global Economy in shambles. So I would agree that Obama is hardly some shining light, he is merely on pace to do just as Bush did, Double the Debt.

So all this talk about who has spent more, other then Clinton, the last 3 Presidents have either Doubled the Debt or Tripled it. Our stance in the World, just what does that even mean. Gas and Food, that hardly has anything to do with Obama. Maybe some posters aren't aware of the massive Droughts going on in the last few Years. Medical Care, sure, just ignore the fact that Big Health Care Industry along with Corporations are giving folks the Middle-Finger, not Obama.

All this Propaganda by certain posters is great political but totally destructive for the well being of our Nation. Record Profits and Cash Hoards by our Corporations yet they attempt to flee paying their Fair share while some morons wonder why our Roads, Gas, Food, Housing, and Medical needs aren't always being properly addressed. The Dumbing Down of America continues.

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