America’s Hidden Recession

We hear in the media that the United States is experiencing an economic recovery. GDP is up. Productivity is as high as it has ever been. Even the stock market dances with new records in trading. The data tells a different story. This ‘recovery’ has exacerbated the divide between the wealthiest in America, and everyone else:

  • 7% of America’s wealthiest households are enjoying a 28% increase in their net worth.
  • The net worth of the remaining 93% of households declined by 4%.

While national jobs numbers do indicate the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs every quarter, the vast majority are low wage jobs. Jobs paying mid-range salaries are in a steady decline. Full-time work doesn’t pay enough to sustain an individual, let alone a family.

Instead, we have a recovery that ignores the majority of American households whose productivity drives it. A Hidden Recession lives beneath the numbers and indicators, behind the data and the drumbeats. It lies within the gap between having a job, or having a job that pays.

Here in Washington:

  • There are 547,634 job seekers compared to only 122,930 job openings
  • The job gap (ratio of job seekers to living wage jobs available) is: 8:1 for a household of one, 11:1 for a household of two, and 22:1 for a household of four
  • The living wage for a single adult in Washington is $16.04

With eight job-seekers for each projected living-wage job opening for a single adult (and 22 for each job that supports a worker, his or her spouse and two children), more jobs need to pay better wages, or working families will not be able to afford to cover their basic needs.

Read more in the Alliance for a Just Society’s 15th annual Job Gap study.

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