A stunning array of highly disturbing economic indicators illustrate how badly the American economy really is faring.
- America slipped into recession at the end of 2012. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, real GDP (gross domestic product--the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States) decreased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012. Economist had expected an increase of 1 percent.
- Unemployment is at historically high levels. The U.S. Department of Labor has released the advance number of actual initial unemployment claims for the week ending January 19. The number of those seeking unemployment assistance rose substantially, to 436,766, from the 416,880 statistic for the comparable period of 2012. The overall unemployment rate is 7.8%. Overall, unemployment during the Obama presidency has been higher than at any time since the close of World War II.
- Americans are becoming poorer. The 2013 Assets & Opportunity Scorecard reveals that 44% of American households are liquid asset poor; one in three has no savings account, and 56% of consumers have subprime credit scores.
- Taxes hikes have hit Americans hard. Despite widespread statements from the White House that the fiscal cliff deal meant no new taxes for middle income Americans, a rise in the payroll tax from 4.2 to 6.2% has taken a sharp bite from over 70% of all workers.
- Gas prices are up. According to a recent AAA survey the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.35. This price is four cents more expensive than the prior week and six cents more than the prior month. Despite significant supplies of gas, the cost per year to the average American family has risen sharply during the past four years, from $2,816.40 in 2009 to $4,112.40 currently.
- Food prices are rising. According to the U.S.D.A, the inflation forecast for both all food and food-at-home (grocery store) prices in 2013 is an increase of 3 to 4 percent. This forecast represents an annual increase that is above the historical average for both indexes. Inflation is expected to remain strong, especially in the first half of 2013, for most animal-based food products due to higher feed prices. Furthermore, inflation is expected to be above the historical average for food categories such as cereals and bakery products as well as other foods.
- Exports are down. During the 4th quarter of 2012, exports plummeted 5.7%.
All of these frightening economic indicators have occurred even after (some argue because of) nearly a trillion dollars in “stimulus” spending was pumped into the economy by Washington, and an artificially low interest rate maintained by the Federal Reserve in attempt to ease, at least superficially, the effects of a failing economy.
In a recent report, the St. Louis Federal Reserve noted that: “the U.S. national debt now exceeds 100 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.”
According to a “Fix the Debt” analysis, www.fixthedebt.org/ “The United States gross national debt is currently more than $16 trillion and growing by more than $3 billion every day. Last fiscal year alone (fy2012), the debt rose more than $1.3 trillion, the fourth year in a row that the deficit has exceeded the trillion dollar mark.”
According to a CBS study, “The Debt rose $4.899 trillion during the two terms of the Bush presidency. It has now gone up $4.939 trillion since President Obama took office.” Despite that enormous sum, no appreciable gain can be discerned for the nation.
The Pew Research Center recently conducted a poll indicating that the number of Americans who place fixing the debt as a high priority jumped from 53% four years ago to 72% currently.
Repeatedly, White House officials emphasize that they took office in the aftermath of a serious recession. However, as noted by a recent study by Dinah Walker, “The economic expansion following the 2008 recession has been the weakest of the post World War II era and remains an outlier among postwar recessions along several dimensions.” The nation appeared to begin to recover strongly from the recession at first. However, when the effects of essentially misguided policies took place, the recovery went into a tailspin.