Today’s news on GDP shows the double dip has arrived–an expansion of only 1.3% and consumer spending up .1% in the second quarter. Astonishingly low by any account.. The debt ceiling trouble and lack of a longer term resolution to the deficit will make it worse.
The US has entered a second recession. It may not be as bad as the first. Economists say that the Great Recession began in December 2007 and lasted until July 2009. That may be the way that the economy was seen through the eyes of experts, but many Americans do not believe that the 2008-2009 downturn ever ended. A Gallup poll released in April found that 29% of those queried thought the economy was in a “depression” and 26% said that the original recession had persisted into 2011.
It is any wonder that many Americans believe that the economic downturn is still in progress? Home prices have fallen to 2002 levels. Values have dropped nearly 50% in parts of Florida, California, Nevada, and Arizona. Property values are also down that much in parts of troubled big cities like Detroit. Estimates are that as many as 11 million homes have underwater mortgages. Banks have inventories of as many as 2 million foreclosed homes which have not even been released to the market. Home prices could fall another 10% if current trends persist.
Perhaps the most powerful argument that the recession never ended or that a new one has begun is the persistence of unemployment. Fourteen million people are out of work. A third of those have been jobless for more than a year. May employment data showed the jobless rate rose unexpectedly and that the economy added only 58,000 jobs. Experts believe that the unemployment rate will not improve significantly until the monthly gain in jobs is consistently 300,000 jobs or more. And, at that rate the gains would have to go one for more than two years to bring the economy back to what is traditionally considered a reasonable unemployment figure.
There are several signs that a recession is firmly in place again and that the downturn could last for several quarters. Most are already easy for the average American to see.