SAN DIEGO, January 28, 2014 — The Great Recession of 2008-2011 was a time of wild economic upheaval and great uncertainty.
Endless news reports of collapsing financial markets, increasing unemployment, declining home values, Ponzi schemes, and mismanaged mortgages caused most Americans to be in a state of disbelief, uncertainty, fear and bewilderment.
The American dream was under attack, along with its promise of home ownership and a better way of life for those willing to earn them.
Politics added fuel to the negative economic fire with each party blaming the other for the problems, creating severe unrest and political and social divides.
Today, over 10 million Americans representing approximately 6.7% of the overall population are unemployed, according to the Department of Numbers.
There are countless other Americans who are not included in this reporting because they are no longer seeking employment. If included, that number would likely increase the rate of the overall U.S. unemployment rate.
According to an article by Eduardo Porter published in the New York Times, it is estimated that the lifetime average income of working age adults has fallen by almost $150,000, which includes reductions in their consumer spending.
Further, the emotional and physical impact on the average worker’s health and well-being is estimated to have declined by 15%, which is akin to having lost $14 trillion, or approximately one year of economic production in the United States.
Joblessness and economic uncertainty have created an environment which is creating ill-health and diminished well-being for many Americans.
The resulting stress experienced by most Americans, due in part to the Great Recession, continues to this day as our economic system remains broken and joblessness continues in high numbers.
Stress which continues without relief can lead to a condition called distress, according to WebMD, and leads to a variety of negative physical and emotional symptoms:
-Elevated blood pressure
-Weight Gain or Loss
-Compulsive gambling and other behaviors
Further, stress at levels of distress is linked to six of the leading causes of death.
The current levels of unrelenting economic distress also affects younger adults who are fearful they will not be able to benefit from college educations and find a job in their field, or any job at all. A sense of hopelessness may prevail, leading ultimately to younger adult and teenage suicides.
With no immediate or clear answers in sight for America’s economic woes, the American Psychological Association offers helpful tips for dealing with financial and economic stress:
-Pause but don’t panic
-Identify your financial stressors and make a plan
-Recognize how you deal with stress related to money
-Turn these challenging times into opportunities for real growth and change
-Ask for professional help from credit counselors to get emotional support
It is unclear how Americans will eventually redefine the American dream, and what future promises of a better life will look like.
But what is clear is that our economic future will never be the same, and so much of it remains undetermined and unknown.
What many may be able to agree on is that politics in America needs to shift ideologically within each party, enabling leadership at all levels to develop and implement real, long-term and common-sense solutions to our economic and social woes.
American lives depend upon it.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities” columnist since 2011, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.
In addition to writing for “Communities,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.
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