After spending the better part of a decade in disaster mode, the American economy has used the past four years to gradually bounce back to a relatively stable state, according to recent reports. In fact, millions of Americans are now back to work. But of course, with these numbers come a bit of good news and a bit of bad news.
The good news? A bolstered economy means an enlivened workforce, with nearly 4 million jobs being created in the past few years. The bad news? The overwhelming majority of these employment opportunities have come at places like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and retail shops in strip malls. In a grander sense, the economy’s bounce-back has yielded far more low-paying jobs than better-paid ones. But who cares, as long as there are jobs at all, right?
The housing market, for one, cares. As more and more young workers enter the workforce — fresh-faced and bachelor’s degree in hand, nonetheless — they’re finding out the best they can land is a sales floor gig at the local shoe store for $8.50 an hour. In addition to slowing down their career plans, this paycheck lag is also slowing down their prospects for buying a new home, in turn slowing down the pace of builders.
The new home construction industry is being squeezed, as Business Week reports, at least for middle-class opportunities. Instead, builders are focusing more on upscale, higher-end properties because that’s where the money is. And the young twenty-somethings putting in their 32-hour weeks at the shoe shop? They’ll have to do quite a bit more saving until they reach the point of being able to purchase a home of their own. For now, they’re likely renting.
But there might be hope, according to Politico’s Gene B. Sperling. Some senators have taken it upon themselves to try to give the housing market a boost, authoring bills that would “put private-sector capital and competition first” as well as taking measures to help Americans secure a solid 30-year fixed mortgage they can actually afford.
“Here in Florida, it’s a different market altogether, due to heavy investment from overseas,” explains David McChesney, Realtor and GRI at The Keyes Company. “However, this is probably true for the whole of the United States.”
In the air now is a sense of resignation. Still, there might be a bit of hope, as Michael Evangelist, who authored the latest report from the National Employment Law Project, told The New York Times. “If this is the reality — if these jobs are here to stay and are going to be making up a considerable part of the economy — the question is, how do we make them better?” he said.