Retailers, consumers and prices
The U.S. recession ends, but not for you
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.
Many economists, who warn that the U.S. economy is in for a “jobless recovery,” caution that the turnaround is on fragile ground.
“Sure the economy’s standing up on its own legs again, but for how long once the government stimulus starts to fade? That’s the million dollar question for the nation’s unemployed, all 15.1 million of them sitting idle through no fault of their own,” said Chris Rupkey, an economist with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” U.S. President Barack Obama said.
(Additional reporting by Emily Kaiser; Reuters photo)