The stock market is back to all time highs, but for ordinary Americans the standard of living has not been worse in decades, if ever.
As Bank of America points out, while the recent covid shutdowns has thrown the economy into disarray with millions laid off and living on government stimulus checks, life for the vast majority of workers - i.e., those who comprise the country's middle class - was already precarious before the pandemic, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Cost of Thriving Index.
Consider that in 1985 it took 30 weeks at the median wage to pay for big fixed costs like housing, health care, a car, and education; fast forward to today when it takes a mathematically impossible 53 weeks of a 52-week year to buy those things.
In other words, as BofA puts it,"'thriving' has become impossible for the average worker" and adds that "it’s no wonder that the uncertainty of forecasts for future growth remains near record highs."
Of course, it's also why millions of Americans are desperately looking forward to another stimulus round, and then another, and another after that, for the simple reason that it was the government's "pandemic relief" that boosted compensation to artificial, if "one-time" record highs.
The question is whether this "one-time" stimulus which many equate with Universal Basic Income, has become a permanent fixture of American life.