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The New American Poor

Most Americans would never have thought it would come to this. The human toll of the recession is still increasing even as the economy shows signs of improvements. Millions of people remain out of work, with their unemployment benefits nearly running out. As majority of these individuals no longer have any savings to speak of, they are staring poverty in the face.

Strains on the Social Safety Nets

Analysts believe that the recovery will not be strong enough to uplift the long-term unemployed. They fear that more Americans will be left behind in this recovery compared to past recessions. These individuals might be classified into a new category: the new poor. They have long been accustomed to middle class life because of their previous employment. Now, they are relying exclusively on public assistance to see them through.

However, even the social safety nets in place are showing severe signs of stress. The unemployed may potentially rely on public services for years to come unless their situation improves. It is estimated that 2.7 million people will lose their unemployment checks by April unless it is extended. Without it, social organizations will be strained under the weight of its responsibilities.

Another disturbing figure is that the number of individuals unemployed for six months or longer is at its largest since 1948, when the government started tracking. They are now composed of 6.3 million people. Men have suffered the brunt of the recession. However, women between the ages of 45 to 64 were also severely affected.

Scarcity of Jobs

The scarcity of jobs even during recovery can be attributed to a range of factors. Some are already embedded in the modern economy. Majority of large businesses are now owned by institutional investors looking for fast profit, usually done by shedding staff. In addition, the manufacturing and some white-collar work have been outsourced to Latin America and Asia. A lot of companies are also hiring temporary staff and part-time workers.

Economic recessions usually forces people out of the middle class. Once recovery starts though, most will recover. In today’s case though, economists think that it will be difference. The economy will need to generate at least 100,000 new jobs in a month just to absorb new entrants. But with over 15 million people officially jobless right now, even a vigorous recovery will leave most unemployed.

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