50 Amazing Numbers About Today’s Economy

I am a huge fan of The Motley Fool website and today they had an amazing article titled 50 Amazing Numbers About Today’s Economy.  I want to comment on just a few of the numbers in the list.

49. According to economist Tyler Cowen, “Thirty years ago, college graduates made 40 percent more than high school graduates, but now the gap is about 83 percent.”

I had a near fatal bicycle accident almost 10 years ago where I hit a car head on where our combined speeds exceeded 50 mph.  I went off and taught high school math for two years at an inner city high school.  You can read about that career pivot here. Maybe 10% of my juniors and seniors would go to a 4 year college.  It was shocking to understand their lack of financial and emotional resources to get a college education.

46. In 2010, nearly half of Americans lived in a household that received direct government benefits. That’s up from 37.7% in 1998.

Teaching at a high school where 90% of my students were poor taught me a lot about government benefits. It is not pretty!

43. About the same number of people was awarded bachelor’s degrees in 2010 as filed for personal bankruptcy (1.6 million).

I am in my mid-fifties and I have more friends my age who have been wiped out financially by these last two recessions. I started this business because I rode out both recessions as successful high tech startups.  I was blessed.

40. In 2009, 5% of Americans accounted for 50% of all health care costs.

37. The number of Americans who don’t have health insurance: 49.9 million.

I have decided to leave the corporate world to be an entrepreneur.  I cannot buy private health insurance for my wife because of pre-existing condition that cost $10/month to treat. We are applying for the Texas High Risk pool insurance where we will pay $481/month for a $7500 deductible policy. This is ridiculous.

30. Americans age 60 and older owe $36 billion in student loans.

I wrote last year about the plight of baby boomers and mortgages but this scares me that we also have enormous student loans.

15. Total government employment has shrunk by almost 700,000 since 2009.

I am assuming a lot of this is state governments which have been shedding employees to balance budgets.  My son works in Washington DC for a large government agency.  There is a surge of retirement at the federal level.

9. Adjusted for inflation, the bursting of the housing bubble destroyed wealth equal to half a 1950s America.

3. The combined assets of Wal-Mart‘s (NYSE: WMT  ) Walton family is equal to that of the bottom 150 million Americans.

We all know there is a tremendous financial inequity in the US today. I live in Austin Texas where we did not see the bubble or the burst in the housing market. Most of my kids when I taught high school bought most of their clothes at Wal-Mart.

Read the entire list.  I will get back to the Cure for Career Insanity tomorrow.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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