By Steven Rosenfeld
There’s a new normal in the American economy for vast slices of society and it’s discouragingly tough, despite all the cheerleading from the White House and economists that the country is in a slow but steady recovery. If anything, the new American economy has undergone a structural shift where far too many jobs are not paying enough to cover basic living expenses and money worries are simmering and never-ending.
“It’s difficult to point fingers at people and say, ‘You screwed up in some way’ or ‘You aren’t working hard enough,’” said Erica Seifert, a senior associate at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which recently conducted a series of focus groups in Florida and Ohio among young college women, Latino voters and white working-class voters. “This economy isn’t functional. The jobs don’t pay.”
Siefert’s firm convened groups of likely voters to hear detailed remarks about how they and their familes were faring economically. What they found was that previously given explanations for economic hard times, such as saying, “It’s the recession,” were replaced by comments that suggested that America is now beset with “institutional inequality.”