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Families still struggle

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The stock market is booming, and to listen to market centric analysts one could well conclude that the nation’s economy has recovered. The stock market crashed in October 2007 and did not stop falling until March 2009. Since March four years ago, the markets have risen to a record high last week. That should be good news, but it masks the reality facing American families today.

Look at the following benchmarks of the well-being of Americans.

n Median household income today is $51,584. In October 2007, family income was $54,623.

n Housing starts in January 2013 were 890,000. In October 2007, they were 1.7 million.

n Unemployment as measured by the U.S. Labor Department’s broadest measure of unemployment is 14.4 percent today versus 8.4 percent in 2007.

n Public college tuition costs today are $8,655 and were $6,534 in 2007.

n Quarterly growth in the gross domestic product this year is 1.6 percent while in 2007 it was 2.2 percent.

n The price earnings ratio of the Standard & Poor’s market index today is 13.7. It was 15.7 in 2007.

n Interest rate on a one-year certificate of deposit is 0.31 percent. In October 2007, a one-year CD paid 4.04 percent.

These statistics compiled by the Wall Street Journal belie the notion that the message of exuberant stock market is that all is well in America’s economy.

Family income is down more than $3,000 at the very time when every American worker just endured a tax increase of 2 percentage points on wages. And in St. Lawrence County, the Legislature is waging war to raise its sales tax 33 percent.

It is very hard to find a job as American employers evaluate the failure of the president and the Congress to produce a budget and create a vision of a better tomorrow. Americans look for work as they watch the president stonewall construction of the Keystone Pipeline to bring crude oil from Canada. They lust for the jobs available in North Dakota, Wyoming and Pennsylvania created by high-tech developments to extract oil and natural gas from deep below the surface. But none of those types of jobs benefit New Yorkers because the state continues to stand in the way of using this technology in the Marcellus shale deposits across the Southern Tier. That region of New York may hold one of the world’s largest supplies of natural gas. Jefferson County, the home of the a relatively prosperous economy driven by the growth of Fort Drum, still has double-digit unemployment rates.

Senior citizens who saved money during a lifetime of work no longer can depend upon their certificates of deposit for extra income in retirement. The interest earned is barely enough to pay for the increased cost of the stamps need to mail property tax payments to the tax collector.

Those working in the private sector have watched their defined benefit pension plans gutted because of the incredibly low interest rates the Federal Reserve has used to try to stimulate the economy. But they stand by and watch public sector workers earn annual pay raises financed by higher taxes.

America’s workers are struggling. The stock market does not feed them, jobs do. Anyone who thinks our economy is better is ignoring their neighbors who worry every day about jobs, costs of education and retirement.

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