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The strains of 4 years of hardship starting to percolate into view.

The WSJ has an article about how dollar stores and ultra-cheap retailers are even feeling the pinch in this economic climate. This reflects what I have been seeing more of lately- marginal households and even once fairly solid middle class households are reeling under the strain of years of a sluggish economy. Some of the people I know have fairly good incomes, but bought houses during the boom and are struggling with their mortgage payments. I was actually rather surprised when I invited a friend out to dinner and drinks and they said they couldn’t go because they just couldn’t swing it right now. I have even seen on some forums people proclaiming there are just no jobs right now, their unemployment is running out, and they are looking for advice to avoid eviction.

The “there just aren’t any jobs” claim has always seemed a little dubious to me, though perhaps outside of an urban area, it could be possible that there just isn’t a job in a reasonable (or even unreasonable) distance of where one lives. It is a little awkward to ask in these situations as to whether they really couldn’t even find a food service job, or a job in their chosen profession, or they just wouldn’t take the hit and take a low paying job.

 

At this point, the #1 issue in the American economy is without a doubt the unemployment rate.