Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It
What lies on the other side of Great Recession? While the most acute part of the economic crisis is past, the downturn's most significant impact on American life remains in the future. The personal, cultural, and political changes that result from severe economic shocks build slowly. But history shows us that, ultimately, downturns like this one profoundly alter the character of society.
Don Peck's Pinched keenly observes how the recession has changed the places we live, the work we do, and even who we are--and details the transformations that are yet to come. Every class and every generation will be affected: newly minted college graduates, blue-collar men, affluent professionals, exurban families, elite financiers, middle-class retirees.
The crash has shifted the course of the economy. In its aftermath, the middle class is shrinking faster, wealth is becoming more concentrated, twenty-somethings are sinking, and working-class families and communities are changing in unsavory ways.
We sit today between two eras, buffeted, anxious, and uncertain of the future. Through vivid reporting and lucid argument, Peck helps us make sense of how our society has changed, and why so many people are still struggling.
The answers to these questions reveal a new way forward for America. The country has endured periods like this one before, and has emerged all the stronger from them; adaptation and reinvention have been perhaps the nation's best and most enduring traits. The time is ripe for another such reinvention. Pinched lays out the principles and public actions that can help us pull it off.
and military retreat, the United States seemed to have lost its confidence, its moral compass, and much of its luster. But “more than Watergate and Vietnam,” wrote the historian Edward Berkowitz in Something Happened: A Political and Cultural Overview of the Seventies, “the economy was the factor that gave the seventies its distinctive character.” The seventies saw two major recessions, one beginning in 1973 and the other in 1978. Each involved a sudden spike in the price of oil. Incomes, after
in prior generations who’d entered the job market during downturns has begun to appear in this one, too. Asked in 2010 to rate the importance of various career priorities—high pay, intellectual stimulation, creative opportunities, the chance to make a difference in society, and more—Millennials put “job security” above everything else. And when offered a hypothetical choice between the prospect of a long-term job with a single company and the opportunity to change employers throughout their
experienced fast growth during the decade’s housing boom.” With the mirage of opportunity in these places dispelled, revealing shrunken, low-wage, slow-growth economies, many homeowners have discovered not only that they bought into a Ponzi scheme, but that the local economy cannot provide the sorts of job opportunities that might help them rebuild lost wealth. In his 2008 Atlantic essay, “The Next Slum?” the real-estate developer and land-use strategist Christopher Leinberger argued that even
than 60 percent of GDP, in the long run, is critical to maintaining confidence in the government. Yet concerns over the national debt need to be put in their proper context. One reason the debt has grown so much as a share of the economy since 2007 is that the economy shrank and has bounced back only weakly. And lower-than-normal tax receipts, not extra spending, accounted for much of the deficit from 2008 to 2010; actual government revenues in 2010 were roughly $800 billion less than they had
women to men U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, e-mail message to author, December 27, 2010. Findings are based on unpublished data from the Current Population Survey. 18. U.S. manufacturing still employed U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics Survey (National),” 2011. 19. “Forty years ago” Rosin, “The End of Men.” 20. And men have yet to adjust Greenstone and Looney, “The Problem with Men.” 21. In her 2010 Atlantic essay Rosin,