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Incomes Explain Why People Think the Recession Continues?

The Washington Post's Aaron Blake writes The Fix column. Almost one year ago, on September 25, 2014, he wrote, "Americans think we’re in a recession. They’re wrong. But still…." He began by writing:

"We here at The Fix love polls -- love, love, love them. We write about them frequently because they are the best way to quantitatively examine the American electorate. On-the-ground reporting is vital, but polling, more than anything, allows us a 30,000-foot view.

"Unfortunately, though, polling has its limits. And few things demonstrate this more than the recession question.

"The recession question, as you might or might not presume, is asking people whether or not the United States is currently in a recession. It is not, but a very strong majority of people regularly say that it is -- and it's been that way for years.

"Case in point: A new Public Religion Research Institute poll, which shows a whopping 72 percent of people think we are still in an economic recession.

"Again, this is flat-out wrong. We are not in a recession. A recession is technically defined as two straight quarters of a declining Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Over the last four years, we have had only two total quarters of a declining GDP. And the last one was not negative, so even if the next one was, we would not be in a recession."

On June 2, 2013, Peter Ferrara wrote about economic recoveries in his Forbes column, specifically saying:

"The recession ended four years ago, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.  So Obamanomics has had plenty of time to produce a solid recovery.  In fact, since the American historical record is the worse the recession, the stronger the recovery, Obama should have had an easy time producing a booming recovery by now.

"Obama likes to tout that we are doing better now than at the worst of the recession.  But every recovery is better than the recession, by definition.  So that doesn’t mean much."

While, technically, the nation may no longer be in recession, as defined by the National Bureau of Economic Research, "the recession question," as the Post's Blake wrote, "is an important one." According to Blake:

"While Americans might not technically be correct about there being a recession right now, it's just their way of registering their continued uncertainty about the slow economic recovery. People don't know what "recession" means, but they do know what "sluggish economy" means, and they are conflating the two in a way that politicians must recognize."

Yesterday, the Census Bureau released their annual income and poverty statistics. Ali Meyer observes in a concise report posted at the Washington Free Beacon:

"Median household income declined to $53,657 in 2014, a figure 6.5 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the recession began, and 1.5 percent lower than last year, according to data released Wednesday from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"From 2007 to 2014, median household incomes declined by $3,700. From 2013 to 2014, the decline was $805.

"According to the Census, median household income divides the income distribution into two, so half of incomes are greater, and half of incomes are less than the median.

"In 2014, median incomes were $56,866 for white households, $42,491 for Hispanic households and $35,398 for black households. Since the recession began, black households have seen the largest decline in incomes, declining by $3,273—or 8.4 percent."

So, please excuse some of us for thinking that, although technically incorrect, the so-called Great Recession continues unabated since December 2007, when it officially began. Or, as the Associated Press (AP) wrote, in their lede paragraph, "The wallets of America's middle class and poorest aren't seeing any extra money, the U.S. Census reported Wednesday, a financial stagnation experts say may be fueling political dissent this campaign season."

The AP story, by Jesse Holland and posted at the U.S. News & World Report website, provides a more extensive report of the Census income and poverty data.

In editorializing about the new Census report on income and poverty, Investor's Business Daily points out:

"This isn't exactly the picture that Obama has been painting. In fact, there's little that Obama likes to do more than brag about the economy.

"A couple of months ago, he was in Wisconsin, crediting his policies for "record" job growth, tumbling deficits and big gains in the stock market.

"Step by step, America is moving forward," he said. "Middle-class economics works. It works. Yes!"

"It's hard to see any evidence of that in the Census numbers. Indeed, the latest report shows that, despite more than six years of economic "recovery," the middle class is, incredibly, worse off than at the end of the Great Recession.

< . . . >

"If anyone but Obama had presided over such results, his economic legacy would be in shambles and his policies in disrepute."

Take a few minutes and write to your Congressional representatives. While they may not be able to change White House policies, there is no one better positioned to influence White House policy, at least if you live in Arlington County, Virginia since they share the same partisan politics. All Growls readers are encouraged to express their outrage about the White House's economic policies, which obviously have not worked. Contact information is available at Thomas (use left-hand column). Taxpayers living in Virginia's Arlington County, can contact:

  • Senator Mark Warner (D) -  write to him or call (202) 224-2023
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D) -- write to him or call (202) 224-4024
  • Representative Don Beyer (D) -- write to him or call (202) 225-4376

Ask for a written response, and tell them ACTA sent you.

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