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Permanent Recession

December 31, 2017

Roaring Mountain, Yellowstone National Park, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park (NAID 520000), Author Ansel Adams (PD by US Govt. employee)

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation
” (Habakkuk 3: 17-18).

Officially, the Great Recession is over.  There are more jobs now than when it struck in 2008.  The unemployment rate – which currently stands at 4.4% – is demonstrably lower.  The stock market has risen dramatically.

Yet millions are still struggling [1].  There are telltale signs of this:

  • Only 62% of working-age adults either have jobs or are searching for them.
  • The average household income of the bottom 20% of Americans fell $571 between 2006-2016.
  • Despite population growth, there are now 400,000 fewer homeowners (a drop of 6%).
  • The median income for black and Latino households has still not returned to 2007 levels.

The direct and indirect consequences of the Great Recession continue to linger.


Millions, of course, lost their homes [2A].  Some did not have the means to support home ownership.  Some were overextended, anxious to cash in on their piece of the real estate boom.  Others were the victims of fraudulent lenders.

Job loss, however, was the primary cause of mortgage default [2B].

Whatever the reason, some families became homeless, living out of their vehicles or moving from one cheap hotel to another.  Disconnected from community, the families of foreclosure had less help from friends and neighbors in finding work.

Foreclosure coupled with an uneven work history continues to keep credit ratings down a decade later.  Poor credit ratings continue to mean higher rents and less money for other essentials.

School Performance

The sons and daughters of homeowners thrust into foreclosure fell behind in school or put school on hold entirely.  Often these were from black and Latino families (more likely than white families to have high interest rate mortgages).  Changes in residence often meant changes in school district, and the necessary readjustment even for those able to remain in school.

Food Insecurity

The Great Recession dramatically increased food insecurity.  Some 49 million Americans now live in food insecure households [2C].  One out of every five American households with children under 18 y.o. is food insecure.

Medical Care

In the aftermath of foreclosure, families are less likely to have reliable medical care, and more likely to seek emergency room treatment.


The 8 million who lost jobs in the Great Recession may never recover.  The jobs created since are not on a par.

A New Year

Hopes are always high on the eve of a New Year.  But the challenges this great nation faces are enormous…far more than have been outlined here.

Whatever the future holds – prosperity or permanent recession – may we go forward with faith in God, courage, and compassion for one another.

[1]  The Atlantic, “The Never-Ending Foreclosures” by Alana Semuels, 12/1/17,

[2A, B, and C]  Northwestern Institute for Policy Research, “The Great Recession:  Over But Not Gone?”,


  1. Thank you Anna. I did not know these important numbers and I suspect most Americans have no idea. I think this shows the gap between rich and poor continues to grow.

    • The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, also, reports that homelessness is on the rise. It is a sad state of affairs in a nation as wealthy as ours.

  2. Your commitment, conviction, and faith continues to wow me on levels I can’t express…thank you for being so awesomely you, and thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. One thing I have noticed here in the Florida panhandle, if you are not the wealthy retired living on our beautiful beaches you are probably living in a travel trailer. What was once a weekend toy is now the only place far too many people can afford to live. There are entire communities of families living in these things after loosing homes and unable to afford outrageous rents. The “middle class” has completely disappeared.

    • That is an astute observation. Nationwide, the number of homeless encampments reported in the media rose from 19 to 274 between 2007 and 2016.

  4. Wow! Anna, these numbers are mind-blowing. As someone mentioned above, many people are unaware of the actual state of affairs. But, he who feels it, knows it. Our politicians are wasting no time in blowing their trumpets and singing aloud that the economy booming. The stock market is indeed surging. The rich are feasting while the people are famished. They have opted to close their eyes to the big /whole picture. The increase in homelessness is very disturbing. How do we explain that there is increase in suffering amidst plenty? The thought that this “permanent recession” is the new normal is unsettling. What can we as individuals do other than pray? I am happy about your expositions, Anna. Thanks for sharing.

  5. numbers like that are startling but I am not totally surprised. good read, glad I found your site

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