Permanently Idle: Is America Going Way of Europe

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Many economic indicators, unofficial and official, point to the economy moving into recovery. However, unemployment remains high. Maybe you should just keep your eye on those economic indicators, that is if you are making a living right now.

Look at the headline in The Wall Street Journal. It reads:

"Retailers' reports of robust November sales offered more evidence that the lackluster U.S. economy may finally be gaining momentum, despite stubbornly high unemployment."

The stock market is up, way up. During the first two days of December, the DOW gained 3.2 percent.

Friends are giving parties again -- and telling you they're sleeping without Ambien.

The New York Times says, on the other hand, that there seems to be a class of the permanently idle. They are not just between jobs during a downturn. They are an underclass. For whatever reasons, they started on that downward trajectory by being without work for a year. Consequently, their chances of landing work keep declining. Finally many of them give up and embrace some kind of public assistance, ranging from welfare to early social security. Their plight might be framed in the very near future as a social, not economic, problem.

Is this point of view heartless? Maybe it's just the new normal in America. Europe had accepted it decades ago, reports The New York Times.

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