Monday, August 23, 2010

Middle Class Getting Socked; Divore Rate Dipping?

The Great Recession, as they now call it, continues to bash the middle class and adversely affect family well being. A recent piece by Judith Warner in the NY Times, is as usual, excellent. Some of the highlights:

"Economists may assert that we’re in the early stages of a recovery, but surveys continue to show that the impact of the Great Recession on American families is deep, widespread and grim. A Pew Research poll published last month indicated that more than half of all adults in the U.S. labor force had experienced some “work-related hardship” — a period of unemployment, a pay cut, a reduction in work hours or an involuntary move to part-time employment — since the recession began in December 2007."

"The poor are getting poorer, and the rich, despite stock-market setbacks, are still comparatively rich. The most devastating losses in household wealth over the past two years have been suffered by the middle class. And families are fraying at the seams. The Pew poll showed nearly half of people who had been unemployed for more than six months saying their family relationships had become strained, and a New York Times/CBS poll of unemployed adults last winter found about 40 percent saying they believed their joblessness was causing behavioral change in their children."

"Parents who have jobs are working longer hours than ever. Mothers are taking shorter maternity leaves. The birth rate is on the decline. The divorce rate is declining, too — it’s too expensive for people to break up their households — but that’s not necessarily a family-friendly thing, as a report from the Council on Contemporary Families noted in April: “We know from the experience of the Great Depression of the 1930s that divorce rates can fall while family conflict and domestic violence rates rise.”

Endnote: Our President has much on his plate. I hope (and pray) that he keeps the astronomical unemployment rate at the very top of his domestic agenda until this nightmare is in our rear-view mirror.