Economically speaking, President Obama started deep in a hole, but has managed to climb his way out. It took roughly six years for the economy to finally pick up steam, a good deal longer than many previous recoveries. For an awful lot of people, the past several years have been tough, and even more so for the millions of Americans who were already struggling to make ends meet before the crisis. Millions of jobs disappeared, and although the numbers show they have returned, many are part-time, or low-paying, rather than positions that can sustain a family, or lead to financial prosperity and personal growth.
Particularly for our struggling neighbors, the recovery over the past half-decade has seemingly taken an eternity. The thing is, those people wondering what the hold up has been are right in one aspect: this recovery has taken substantially longer than in previous recessions. There are several factors at play, and it seems true to many that while things look good on paper, the sentiment in much of the country is that it doesn’t feel like things are any better.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development detailed some of the factors behind the slow ascent back to economic normalcy in a report, profiling some of the macroeconomic and financial challenges still facing many Americans. They do lay out some facts — like job numbers going up and consumer confidence rising — but there are other aspects at play that are clearly holding things back. “This is not a ‘business-as usual’ recovery. The economic rebound has been weaker than after past recessions, not only because of the lingering effects of the financial turmoil but also due to unusually large cut-backs in public spending, including government employment, and the long-expected retirement of baby boomers,” the report says.
A combination of low wages, regressive tax structures, and failing social safety nets haven’t given people the traction to climb the economic ladder. Cost increases in education and cost of living have also played a role. Loss of jobs to overseas markets, and jobs that were cut and haven’t returned, or came back at much lower pay and hours. These are just a few of the issues that have slowed us down significantly.