It’s been more than four years since the economic crash of 2008 that affected (and still affects) many countries around the world including the U.S. The behavior of many Americans has changed and some of those changes are likely permanent. Many of the jobs that have been lost are never coming back. Nor is there a forecast of a return to the income levels that Americans enjoyed before 2008. When it comes to the economy in the U.S. – it is what it is – and what it probably will be for a long time to come.
Americans have lamented about their downward mobility almost since the beginning of the ‘Great Recession’. While the complaints have continued, many Americans (including me) have gotten accustomed to the way things have been, are and will be. For example many Americans who went out to eat with abandon before the recession, don’t go out to eat the same way we did before. We dine out less frequently and at less expensive restaurants. Sure there will be occasional splurges but behaviors have been changed and it is unlikely that things will go back to the way they were before 2008.
I like to use the expression ‘life goes on while you are not paying attention’. This has to do with people’s capacity for adaptability and people should not be surprised that they are so much more adaptable than they think. Necessity truly is the mother of invention.
Do I think there’s no hope for better days? Absolutely not, in fact I wake up each day and try working toward making things better for me and my family and those around me. Maybe I even have the entire concept of betters days all wrong and I am living them right now. Things can always be worse. The U.S. Economy could be better but I also know that it could be worse. Much worse. It’s easy to talk about things policy can do to impact an economy and a vastly different thing to actually execute a foolproof strategy.
I personally know a substantial number of people who are out of work, and have been out of work for quite some time coming from industries that have changed dramatically and inexorably. Starting over in a new industry after ten, twenty or more years is becoming altogether too common. With continued advances in technology, entire industries will continue to undergo rapid changes impacting the lives of the people that work for and with the company. There’s zero chance of that trend diminishing.
For some people who’ve been out of a job, falling behind, and/or running out of options, better days would mean something quite different than what you and I might think. When it comes to the U.S. economy – it’s all relative. And maybe it just is what it is.
Can we live with that? Should we?