Recently I came across two interesting facts cited in the Washington Post. In the first place, in the past decade alone, Washington, DC has lost more than half of its affordable housing- more than half in one decade alone! Second, 60% of the jobs lost during the “Great Recession” were middle income jobs. That is, jobs paying between $13.83 and $21.13 hourly. Of the recovery jobs, 58% have been low income jobs. When we consider these dynamics collectively, what are we to understand? Are individuals being made poor and helpless by design?
The plot thickens when the current, historic gains on Wall Street are considered. With a national unemployment rate well over 7 percent, somehow, corporations are doing better than ever. The meaning of all this? For the foreseeable future, it is doubtful that companies will need to add additional labor or increase wages at all to prosper. The economy, as is, works just fine for the corporate elite. While affordable housing options are disappearing and those fortunate enough to have work at all aren’t making nearly enough to make ends meet, there’s very little urgency to do much-for the major players in the economy, that is. Truthfully, only politicians have some slight concern over indicators like unemployment. After all, the CEO of Exxon Mobil is not at any risk of being voted out due to high unemployment but your congressman is.
So then, if we continue on the current trajectory, people will have fewer and fewer options to work and increasingly, an extreme shortage of work for middle class wages. Concurrently, although in dismal times economically, the price of living is only increasing (while affordable housing options disappear)! Perhaps we should consider the notion that the recovery is over- maybe this just is the new normal. Further, if this is the new normal- no new hiring or higher wages- then we should think critically about how to survive in the here and now and in the future.
It’s no longer about hoping a company will hire you. It’s no longer about hoping for that pay raise. It’s on you now. What creative endeavor will you pursue? What knowledge do you have that can be monetized? Where can you add value to a process already existing? In other words, only by creating new business will you survive. Long term, only by talented individuals creating new industries will the masses prosper.