Sunday’s New York Times (1/19/2020) is incredibly negative about life in the U.S. today. Consider the following opinion pieces in the Sunday Review section:
- The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an Aberration by Michelle Alexander which deplores mass incarceration, mass deportation and the rise of white nationalism.
- We Don’t Understand China’s Power by David Leonhardt which claims that as China continues to move forward, the United States is slipping into reverse.
- How Did Americans Lose Faith in Everything? by Yuval Levin who claims that we are living through a social crisis of isolation, alienation and despair which has sent suicide rates climbing and driven an epidemic of opioid abuse.
These authors are addressing serious problems in our country. But what I observe in Omaha NE is that the economy is booming and there is a huge labor shortage. For example, our local Target store is now hiring at a starting salary of $13 per hour. This is economic opportunity in action!
For an optimistic national perspective, see the recent Wall Street Journal editorial The Economy’s Inequality Dividend which points out that:
- The current jobless rate of 3.5% is the lowest in 50 years. The labor participation rate (currently 63.2%) has grown steadily for five years.
- During the last three years wages for the bottom 10% of earners over age 25 rose an average of 5.9% annually and even faster (6.1%) for workers without a high school degree.
- The black unemployment rate of 5.5% is the lowest that has ever been recorded. The poverty rates for blacks (20.8%) and for Hispanics (17.6%) are also the lowest ever recorded.
- In 2019 forty million fewer people lived in households receiving government assistance than in 2016 and the food stamp rolls have shrunk by 9.5 million in the last three years.
- Between 2016 and 2018 the number of taxpayers earning less than $25,000 declined 5% while increasing 8% for those making between $100,000 and $200,000.
Conclusion. There are both good and undesirable aspects of life in today’s America. Although I tend to accentuate the positive, I am aware of the less fortunate members of our society and support programs designed to give them a lift.