Our Perception of the Economy

May 1, 2015

We’re told that the economy is doing better and that people are spending more money but it’s a matter of perception. When I walk into a large store, it looks empty. When I walk into a small store, it looks busy. In some of the stores, the lines are very long but that’s because they don’t have enough cashiers, while in other stores, they have a lot of cashiers so it doesn’t look like they are doing a lot of business.

And, in the meantime, we keep hearing about all the chain stores that are closing hundreds of stores, with more to come. I’d like to believe that the economy is getting healthier but when I hear that thousands are going to become unemployed this coming year with the closing of stores, I can’t say that I’m very optimistic about the economy.

To me, it looks like the deep recession we had a few years ago where, for a long while, people stopped spending money and, then, all of a sudden, they were going to restaurants and pulling out credit cards for meals they couldn’t afford. I’m seeing a lot of that now. The economy still doesn’t look healthy but people are pulling out their credit cards to pay for goods they can’t afford and, in all probability, things they don’t need.

If we listen to the reports from the Department of Labor, we’re told that the unemployment rate is down to 262,000, a decrease of 34,000 down from the previous week’s revised level, the lowest level since 2000 when new claims were 296,000.

This is a good example of how statistics can be manipulated. It says nothing about the fact that there are 10,000 baby boomers a day who have been retiring and, within the next five years, 76,000 baby boomers will have left the workforce. Therefore, the Dept of Labor doesn’t have to worry about these boomers applying for unemployment claims so the economy will look healthier and healthier.

But what happens when Congress plays around with Social Security and tries to raise the age of retirement or they try to privatize Social Security and wipe Medicare and Medicaid off the books? How will that play out as far as the statistics of the Dept of Labor?

When they talk about all the jobs that will become obsolete within the next five years, the economy doesn’t look very good at all for the people who will then join the ranks of the unemployed.

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