The hold on evictions has sunset, the extra unemployment help has expired, and far too much COVID-19 bailout money went to companies and corporations instead of Americans. The middle-class that Republicans claim to support so fully has now reached the end of their rope, and the GOP’s focus has shifted from the coronavirus stimulus to passing through a new Supreme Court Justice.
The Wall Street Journal walked through the way in which the pandemic has wreaked havoc on Americans who are now so far in debt as a result of the crisis that the fear they’ll never come out of it.
Alysse Hopkins was a successful attorney who made a comfortable living, but now, she fears she “will never claw my way out of this situation.”
“It frustrates me to not be able to earn a living,” she explained. “I have a law degree, almost 20 years of practice.”
She and her husband were bringing in $175,000 a year with a mortgage, car leases, student loans, and credit card debt. Now, their situation seems outright hopeless. They’re not the only ones.
“Millions of Americans have lost jobs during a pandemic that kept restaurants, shops, and public institutions closed for months and hit the travel industry hard. While lower-wage workers have borne much of the brunt, the crisis is wreaking a particular kind of havoc on the debt-laden middle class,” noted the Journal.
Having debt wasn’t a problem in the world before COVID-19 because everyone had a job. While wages weren’t the best for everyone and upward mobility seemed to have slowed, at least it existed, and some were stable.
“American families with nonhousing debt making over $98,018 a year in pre-tax income owed an average of nearly $92,000 of such debt in 2016,” the Journal explained. “That’s up 32% from 2004, adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit research group.”
Pre-COVID, Americans had about $4.2 trillion in consumer debt, not including mortgages. That debt now equals $10 trillion, and the Republican-led Senate isn’t coming to the rescue, much less meeting with Democrats for a deal to help.
“What I see happening here is a core assault on successful college-educated families, which are the new breed of middle-class American families,” the Journal cited Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “There’s a professional workforce that’s getting slammed.”
Unemployment is still unbelievably high, at 8.4% in August, up from 3.5% at the start of the pandemic in February.
“By some measures, the outlook for higher-earning workers appears worse than during the 2008 financial crisis,” the Journal explained. “In August, about 3.3 million people age 25 and over with bachelor’s degrees or higher were unemployed, up from 1.2 million in February, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. During the last downturn, that number peaked at about 2.2 million.”
But in Trump World, things are great, America is coming back, and the vaccine will be available by the end of October, and it’ll all be over. The reality, however, is that millions of Americans not only can’t afford the boats to fly their candidate’s flag on, but they’re also struggling to afford their vehicles, mortgages, rent, and make payments on their debt.
Unfortunately, reading the story in the conservative WSJ will be the first time many on the right will learn that there is a problem.
Read the full report at the Wall Street Journal.