Thursday, February 9, 2023

Why Most Americans Think Our “Good” Economy Is Bad

According to a recent Gallup poll, half of Americans say their finances are worse off now than a year ago.1 That’s despite record-low unemployment, massive job growth and declining inflation.

But if you’re a temp, freelancer or contract worker, like I am, you might be one of those people. That’s because if you’re a temp, freelancer or contract worker, you have no job security (not that any job is really “secure,” as thousands of tech workers—and others—recently found out). On top of that, you probably have no health insurance and, chances are, you can’t afford any, even with the so-called Affordable Care Act.

Furthermore, while inflation may be declining in some areas, it’s increasing in others. When the price of eggs at my local deli went down to $7 from $9, I was so excited I took a picture of it. But then the next day, The New York Times announced that it was increasing the price of its daily newspaper from $3 to $4.

You can’t win!

My salary peaked in 2015 and has actually been decreasing since then. And that’s not accounting for inflation, which, even if it was only 4% per year (and it was much higher last year), would mean that prices have gone up 32% in the last eight years!

Then there are things like natural disasters (which have increased since the advent of climate change) and medical emergencies, which can wipe out a family’s savings (assuming they have any) in one fell swoop. We’ve now had over 40 years of trickle-down economics and, guess what, folks: it hasn’t worked.

Our so-called “safety net” isn’t always enough to sustain people until they can find another job and some people don’t even qualify for that safety net.

Meanwhile, technologies like ChatGPT are set to further erode the job market, and retirement for many people (including myself) is nothing more than a pipe dream.

This is why it’s so frustrating when I keep reading and hearing people (I’m looking at you, Jerome Powell) say that low unemployment and high wages are bad. It’s as if the Fed is actively trying to make things worse.

It’s even more frustrating that we live in an age of social media, where everyone pretends that everything is great all the time.

Well, I have news for you, people: it’s not.


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