Recession Reality Hits Home

by Gerri Willis

Last night, while I was working late, my husband answered the front door to find a well-dressed young man selling magazines.

It's unusual to see door-to-door salesmen in our neighborhood, and David, surprised, listened for a bit. The young man was articulate and polite.

My husband was a little surprised someone who presented himself so well was selling magazines door to door - it's a tough way to make a living.

Then, two policemen appeared on our sidewalk -- and began questioning this young man -- did he have a permit to sell? Did he know how to get one? The young man answered no to both questions.

And then the policemen asked when he would be picked up -- the young man said he had another hour on the clock. He walked away in the early evening gloom, to wait for his ride.

It was then that it dawned on my husband this young man had spent all day in our neighborhood, walking from door to door -- selling subscriptions, or who knows, maybe it was a fraudulent scheme.

It had been raining all day that day... And now he would wait in the drizzle for his ride home.

It's that kind of economy -- weak. Punitive. Heartless. People who should be employed in good jobs aren't necessarily.

A new poll shows eight in ten Americans feel like we are most definitely in a recession - despite the fact economists say we're not.

Even if you do have a job -- incomes are sliding.

Americans earned less last month - down a tenth of a percent from July - that's the first decline in nearly two years!

Consumers spent a little more - total spending up about a quarter of a percent. But those dollars didn't go for extravagances they went for essentials - paying higher prices for food and gas. The average national price for a gallon of gas today is $3.45 - 76 cents higher than a year ago. The squeeze has many of us trapping savings to cover rising costs - in august the savings rate fell to four and a half percent - its lowest level since December 2009.

There was a time middle class incomes in this country were the envy of the world. Not anymore. Earlier this month, the Census Bureau reported middle class incomes dropped for the third year in a row and are roughly where they were back in 1996.

And that's how you get to the fella at our front door. He needs a real job with real prospects to have a real future. We all do.