October 31, 2011; Source: Wall Street JournalAt least the Wall Street Journal believes that an economic recovery is underway.  But the statistics the WSJ provides make the recovery a long way off.  Here are some key benchmarks from the article that feel recessionary to us:

  1. Median household income declined 3.2 percent between 2007 and 2009, down to $53,518, but declined another 6.7 percent to $49,909 between June 2009 and June 2011.
  2. “(T)he income of the typical American household, adjusted for inflation and in 2011 dollars, has dropped well below the January 2000 level ($55,836)”
  3. One out of every five homeowners with a mortgage is “underwater,” that is, they owe more on their mortgage loans than their homes are worth.
  4. “As of June [2011], home prices were 10.1% below mid-2009 levels.”
  5. Unemployment hasn’t budged below 9.1 percent for some months now, and half of the unemployed have been so for at least six months.
  6. Between June 2009 and June 2011, the value of an education has plummeted in terms of earning potentials: households headed by people with two-year associate degrees saw their incomes decline 11.2 percent, and households with a head of household with a bachelor’s degree fell 5.9 percent.

Some economists think that these lousy benchmarks represent a bottoming-out of the economy rather than a continuing slide downward but that may be hard to see from lower down I guess.—Rick Cohen