I had some “catch-up” work to do over the weekend. My reading stack started to get a little unruly. My wife wanted to know what the end goal was – keep stacking until we reached a point where we were the subject of Reality TV? I’m pretty sure that was her way of saying “get busy.”
I donned my reading glasses, sat down in my favorite chair used for the very purpose of reading, and set out to move the “leaning tower of paper” a little closer to the floor. I grabbed a handful of clipped newspaper articles, read two paragraphs of column one of the top articles, and almost immediately felt my chin hitting my chest. My head was bobbing and weaving like a newborn baby. I had no chance of moving the stack.
Quickly I regrouped, shuffled the stack, randomly grabbed a new article and set out on my journey. No nodding off on this one. The article was discussing the state of the unemployed in our country. Their hardships are stark and the message is raw.
Think about this. In 2010, 75 percent of those who found themselves in a state of unemployment received some sort of benefit. In 2011, that number is 48 percent. Some quick math and some applied deductive reasoning and you can pretty much figure out that over half of the people on the active ranks of unemployed are getting nothing. Reading a little further, we find out that people on food stamps are at a record level.
The next article discussed the cost of living in St. Louis. It’s up. Gas costs are up. So are groceries. So is everything else. Do the math and you quickly recognize the dire straits of our community: increased costs with less money coming in. OUCH!
As I cracked the text of article #3, it was peppered with the fact that for every job opening in St. Louis, there are 10 applicants. Nationally, that number is 4.5 applicants per job. That means we’re worse off than the average city. The St. Louis Federal Reserve confirms the negative state of affairs through their regular publication aptly named the “beige book” for its lack of exciting news. Our Fed district has the dubious title of having nothing positive to say. At least the other 11 districts could eek out a little something positive.
Most of us are employed, thank God! All of us getting a check from SLCCU every two weeks are thankful. We are grateful and want our gratitude to be visible in all that we do. People are hurting this holiday season. We should all say a prayer and give what we can to help others during these tough times.
Maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to move in the right direction – I certainly hope so. My next stack of reading is going to have to have better news.