This column has been away for a while as we’ve sat in the waiting room anticipating the arrival of our new bundle of joy— an actual economic recovery. Well, it looks like all the “recovery” we’re getting is a bunch of pretty worthless numbers from Washington and Wall Street.
Job levels are finally back up, BUT full time positions have been replaced by part time slots. That explains why consumer spending is still lagging. Also stifling the spender is the fact that her/his wage dollar is substantially less than it was before the Great Recession, and MUCH less when you compare it to the quantum leap of earnings and assets enjoyed by the One Percent.
Yep, I hate to go all “class warfare” on this, but all signs point to a Great Divide in the Western econosphere that is beginning to mirror the perpetual dualities of the Third World and Fourth World. It turns out that John Edwards was right— there really ARE two Americas. The U.S. of the early twenty-first century has come to resemble that of the Gilded Age, when the Robber Barons wrote their own rules— and the rules for everybody else.
American merchandisers and service industries are abandoning the Middle Class— just as Washington has— and are now trending to upscale/exclusive or to poverty-level “dollar” stores. An example is the Red Lobster move away from a general audience to a high-ticket crowd.
Which direction are YOU choosing? Or are you creating your OWN? Next time, let’s discuss that. BTW, we’re not waiting for any more announcements of a recovery.