by Umair Khan
Uncertainty of the Economy
|The Great Recession may be over, but this era of high joblessness is probably just beginning. Before it ends, it will likely change the life course and character of a generation of young adults. It will leave an indelible imprint on many blue-collar men. It could cripple marriage as an institution in many communities. It may already be plunging many inner cities into a despair not seen for decades. Ultimately, it is likely to warp our politics, our culture, and the character of our society for years to come.
A lot of economists believe that the United States will be bankrupt in as few as twenty years. It may take several decades for future generations of Americans to pay off America's debts, if it is even possible. In a worse case scenario, Americans would not even be able to pay the interests on the American debts. In the best case scenario, the United States would cease funding several key programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, and even increase the retirement age again just to name a few possibilities.
With the recent and sudden increases in the cost of living, the lower and lower end of the middle classes have to work more hours and more jobs just to continue living with the same quality of life. Therefore, these people are too busy and can not afford to participate in politics (with the exception of posting comments on the Internet). And since the short term economy of the United States is predicted to continue sliding down for at least another year or two, this second reason will only become more common as more people slide from middle class to lower class.
Furthermore, few Americans are willing to discuss their political and economic views, except anonymously on the Internet. And fewer Americans take an active role in either recommending or supporting changes. For instance, notice how little presidential candidates discuss the specifics concerning the topic of resolving America's economic issues. Apparently at best, there is only a modest interest from the press or from individuals when this should be a major concern.
It’s likely, then, that for the next several years or more, the jobs environment will more closely resemble today’s environment than that of 2006 or 2007—or for that matter, the environment to which we were accustomed for a generation. Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, notes that if the recovery follows the same basic path as the last two (in 1991 and 2001), unemployment will stand at roughly 8 percent in 2014.
In conclusion, we haven’t seen anything like this before: a really deep recession combined with a really extended period, maybe as much as eight years, all told, of highly elevated unemployment.