The majority of Americans have never had to face an economic collapse like the one now sweeping the country. Anxiety surrounding the health crisis, escalating civil unrest, and a persistently high unemployment rate have made the United States of today almost unrecognizable. This is far and away the most dire crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The Labor Department recently released highly anticipated new data on the country’s unemployment rate for July, a month that saw resurgences of the pandemic and a second wave of layoffs for American workers.
Mysteriously, the reported unemployment rate was 10.2 percent, a marked improvement from June’s rate of 11.1 percent. Furthermore, the Labor Department said that 1.8 million jobs were added back to the economy. This is a steep slowdown from the nearly 5 million added the month prior, but progress nonetheless.
However, there is a serious discrepancy between these official statistics and the things we are seeing play out across the United States. According to John Williams, economist and owner of ShadowStats.com, a site that publishes alternative calculations of key economic indicators, the true unemployment rate hovers somewhere around 30 percent.
After all, 152 million Americans were employed in February, and since then, over 55 million new claims for unemployment benefits have been filed. The government data just doesn’t add up. Tens of millions of these claims would have to be corrupt if you were to believe the 10.2 percent unemployment rate.
In fact, more than 80 percent of middle-income households–defined as those that earn between $25,000 and $125,000 a year–have been making bill payments with money in their checking or savings accounts. With high-income families, the figure spikes to 94 percent.
Middle-income households were also incredibly reliant on stimulus payments from the government, and almost 90 percent of them reported that this money went towards basic expenses. Of course, with those emergency aid measures largely expired, we can expect to see an even greater dip into savings accounts, a move that will come back to haunt countless Americans in the future.
Meanwhile, things look even more dire for low-income Americans, only 61 percent of whom say they have been able to live off of their savings. 42 percent have relied at least in part on loans from friends and family members, and nearly half–48 percent–said they had sold personal items in order to scrape together the money for bill payments.
Similar trends have emerged in commercial real estate, and business owners are finding it difficult to keep up with rent payments for their brick and mortar stores or restaurants.
In July, 83 percent of restaurant, bar, and nightclub owners in New York City were unable to make their rent payments in full. 37 percent of these couldn’t even put a single dollar towards these bills, and paid nothing last month.
With this current crisis, the entire world has been plunged into a dramatic slowdown all at once. In a massive chain reaction, the blows this pandemic has dealt to international superpowers like the US, China, and the European Union will cause ripple effects that push developing countries into even more precarious situations. No one on the planet has escaped the impact of the collapse, and every major economy will feel the scars of this disaster for years.
We can see the threads of the country being pulled apart in front of our eyes. Despite more optimistic government data, the plight of the United States is worsening day after day.