Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

5 Ways Americans Are Surviving the Great Recession

Published on July 26, 2011 by   ·   No Comments


Most of us are familiar with the tragic numbers that tell the tale of this grueling downturn. During the last peak, about 65 percent of Americans held a job; today, that number is below 59 percent. We just saw the largest two-year drop in “labor compensation” – wages and benefits – since the early 1960s, the foreclosure crisis continues unabated, and for the first time, the number of “99ers” – unemployed Americans whose benefits have run out – has pushed past the two million mark.

While Washington remains in the grip of deficit hysteria, these are the real problems the American people face. Being a resourceful people, they’re adapting to their new economic situation in a variety of ways. Here are five of them.

1. Waiting to Strike Out on Their own

Getting a new place of your own — whether moving out of the family home as a young adult, going it alone after living with roomies or getting out of a bad relationship — costs money. Given the depths of the downturn, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the number of new households being formed has hit its lowest level in 40 years. That’s according to economist Scott Sumner, who, citing an analysis of Census data, notes that in 2007 over 1.6 new households were formed, which was more or less in line with the average of 1.5 million over the previous decade. Last year, however, only 357,000 new households emerged, “down 78% from 2007 and down 76% from the prior 10-year average.” This is a major drag on the housing market and the construction industry.

2. Doubling Up

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Facing layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs, more people have turned to shared housing to help make ends meet.” Reporter Caroline Said found that listings for shares in the Bay Area on Craigslist are up 60 percent in the past 12 months, and agencies that match landlords looking to rent out a room with tenants eager to find affordable digs are overwhelmed.

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