Experts say U.S. economic growth has returned, signaling the end of the longest and deepest recession since the Great Depression.
But the good news for Wall Street -- where shares have been running up -- is showing no signs of trickling down to Main Street, where unemployment is flirting with 10 percent, foreclosures continue to rise and record numbers of families now depend on government-issued food stamps to make ends meet.
"For every person out of work, for every family facing foreclosure, for every small business facing a credit crunch, the recession remains alive and acute," U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in testimony to a congressional committee.
"Many people you might have called middle class or working class before have been ground down toward poverty or even destitution," said author Barbara Ehrenreich, who has chronicled America's working poor during her career.
While most Americans either fret about a job loss or deal with the financial devastation of joblessness, the income gap between the super rich in the United States and the average Joe is the largest since the 1920s. Nearly one-sixth of the U.S. population is uninsured. And, contrary to popular belief, Americans are less likely to move to a higher financial status than people who live in "socialist" countries like Germany, Canada, France or Sweden.