Tom Purcell, 8/3/2015 [Archive]

Weak Recovery Has 'Staycations' Here to Stay

By Tom Purcell

"I wanted to go to the beach, but the wife tells me we barely have the funds to go miniature golfing!"

"Ah, yes, you speak of a common experience for many Americans in recent summers. According to a 2014 Google Trends report, there has been a 10 percent increase in online searches for 'staycations,' getaways that are close to home."

"A vacation to me is going to a beach and staying in a nice condo and forgetting all of our worries for a week or more — not driving 45 minutes to stay in some dinky motel at a lake!"

"There is a reason so many families are short on funds. According to The Wall Street Journal, the economy is only growing at an average of 2.2 percent a year since 2009, when the recession ended. It is the slowest economic recovery in more than 70 years. The growth rate is more than a full percentage point lower than in the second worst recovery, which occurred from 2001 through 2007."

"But wasn't President Obama just on the Jon Stewart show, claiming that every metric under his presidency is better than when he took office?"

"That is correct, but the Tampa Bay Times' PolitiFact took exception to some of his claims. Here's what they said about real weekly median earnings under Obama: 'Between the first quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2015, inflation-adjusted weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers fell from $348 to $344, a decline of about 1 percent. Comparing the second quarter of 2009 and the second quarter of 2015, weekly earnings fell from $342 to $337, a decline of about 1.4 percent.'"

"That doesn't sound so good."

"Median income is not doing so well under Obama, either. PolitiFact says that 'inflation-adjusted median household income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, fell from $54,059 in 2009 to $51,939 in 2013 — a decline of about 4 percent.'"

"No wonder the wife and I are so broke."

"It gets worse. Says PolitiFact: 'The data show that 13.2 percent of Americans were living in poverty in March 2009. By March 2014, that percentage had risen to 14.5 percent. That was down slightly from what it was in the previous three years, but not enough to match the 2009 level.'"

"The wife and I are headed to the poorhouse if things don't improve. The government is telling us there is low inflation, but making ends meet is getting harder every month. Have you seen the cost of milk, meat and produce? Costs keep going up as our income keeps going down!"

"The big picture could be worse, however. GDP is up, the number of employed Americans is up, and the unemployment rate, by and large, has improved since 2009, but the fact is a measly 2.2-percent growth rate is not going to cut it. Until that is corrected, many families will lack the growth opportunities they need in their careers to put money in the bank to have the funds they need to enjoy a decent summer vacation."

"You mean like the mid-1990s?"

"Yes. The National Bureau of Economic Research says the 1990s was the longest economic expansion in U.S. history. The growth rate was double what it is now. The expansion lasted 10 years, from March 1991 to March 2001."

"In the '90s, the wife and I toured Europe and every year, we flew down to the Caribbean. Now we get to go miniature golfing. Yippee!"

"It's very simple. Until our government gets back to pro-growth policies, staycations will be staying with us a while."

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© 2015 Tom Purcell. Tom Purcell, author of "Misadventures of a 1970's Childhood" and "Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!" is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. For info on using this column in your publication or website, contact Sales@cagle.com or call (805) 969-2829. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com.



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