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It Makes You Wonder

In “Burger Flippers, Babysitting Grandmas Show Recession Lives On,” Bloomberg details where things stand for the average American.

Americans flipped more burgers, rented more homes, used less-expensive heating fuel and asked for more government help last year, the U.S. Census Bureau says.

More people worked fewer hours for less money. Fewer couples got married, and more grandparents cared for their grandchildren. Fewer children attended preschool, and more adults enrolled in graduate school than in 2009.

An annual survey released today, coupled with census data last week showing the highest poverty rates and lowest incomes in a generation, offers a vivid portrait of how people are struggling to cope after the worst recession of their lifetimes. Washington lawmakers remain deadlocked over how to respond.

“It’s getting worse and worse,” said Elmi Osman, 38, of Clarkston, Georgia, who began driving a taxicab after being laid off from his job at Hertz Corp. in 2008. “I don’t have a choice. I have an associate’s degree in engineering, and I cannot find another job.”

“When I started, I could make $300 to $400 in an average eight-hour day,” he said, standing in a line of 13 cabs waiting for fares outside a downtown Atlanta hotel. “Then it went to $300, to $250, to $200. Now an average day is $100 for 15 to 16 hours.”

He’s sticking with it, because he has to, he said.

“I’m doing this to survive and pay my rent.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average hourly earnings in the private sector rose by approximately seven percent during the past three years. Based on my calculations, Mr. Osman’s hourly compensation fell by roughly 85 percent over that same span. Admittedly, he is just one individual, whose circumstances may not be at all representative of Americans as a whole. Still, given how distorted some of the other statistics our government is feeding us seem to be (think “low” inflation), his story makes you wonder just how bad things really are.…you-wonder.html

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