Five deep fractures in the so-called “booming economy” negatively affect many Americans, especially families. As discussed recently in The Atlantic Monthly, we need to pay attention to these fractures.
First, wages against costs leave very little for cushion in the event of an emergency. “Fully one in three households is classified as ‘financially fragile.’’’
Second, the price of housing is leading to more renters than owners. Renters are not building wealth, one of the hallmarks of being middle class. Rent costs have also been rising faster than renter income for about two decades.
Third, the cost of health care for Americans is about “twice as much” as for citizens of other wealthy countries, with no greater return in services received, i.e., premiums and deductibles keep increasing.
Fourth, student loan debt is “a trillion-dollar stone placed on young adults’ backs.”Student loans are now bigger than are car loans or credit card debt.
Fifth and the last to be addressed in the article is child-care expenses which are supposed to be limited to “about 7 percent” for low income families, but in reality have become generally the “single biggest line item on young families’ budgets” over rent or mortgage payments.
Clearly in this time of a “booming economy” wealth building is primarily viewed as benefiting those at the top who received the big tax cuts. But, for the rest, income disparities, housing, health care and child-care costs, along with student loan debt, add up to a lot that subtracts from families’ wellbeing, leading to a downward economic spiral. This is both unacceptable and unsustainable, especially for our families that can’t afford America any more.
Beverly Clark Floss