In the past, when Americans compared their standard of living to that of their Chinese counterparts our well being was hands down better off than those living under the Communist regime. A recent Gallup survey, however, shows some thing has changed over the last three years.
Gallup surveys in China and the U.S. reveal Chinese are struggling less than Americans to put food on their tables. Six percent of Chinese in 2011 say there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food that they or their family needed, down significantly from 16% in 2008. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans saying they did not have money for food in the previous 12 months more than doubled from 9% in 2008 to 19% in 2011.
Fewer Americans had access to basic life necessities in September. The nation’s Basic Access Index score fell to 81.4 last month — on par with the 81.5 measured in February and March 2009 amid the recession.
Americans’ access to basic necessities has never fully recovered after declining amid the 2008 to 2009 financial crisis and has declined further since February of this year.
These findings are based on more than 29,000 interviews conducted each month from January 2008 through September 2011 with American adults as a part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
While the recession officially ended more than two years ago, the effects on Americans continue to linger.
Unemployment remains high and more Americans than ever are living in poverty, which may lead to more people struggling to access basic life necessities such as healthcare, food, and shelter.
Although the vast majority of Americans still report that they are not having trouble accessing basic necessities, the trend is currently going in the wrong direction. Additionally Gallup’s global research finds Americans are now struggling more than Chinese to afford food, a reversal from 2008. If the worries about a double-dip recession come to fruition, even more Americans may start having problems meeting their basic needs.
While economists, analysts and television pundits argue about the severity of the recession or a double dip in the recovery, it’s obvious that Main Street is experiencing depression-like economic symptoms. The key data points, the ones that really matter to the average person on the ground, show that more Americans than ever before are on food stamps, millions are losing their homes, purchasing power is dropping, and unemployment is out of control.
A lack of access to basic life necessities is also rearing its head in the form of rising crime. Cities across the country have reported large-scale garden vegetable thefts, and weekly news reports show that theft of metal – especially copper – is on the rise as people struggle to get by.
All of this comes at a time when leaders in Washington say that the country is experiencing economic growth, albeit sluggishly, and that more spending in the form of stimulus is needed to prevent further degradation. Based on recent comments by those holding top positions in the public and private sectors there is a serious possibility that the economic crisis will revert to something worse than what we have experienced since 2008 – something even worse than the Great Depression.
Given that Gallup’s survey suggests around 60 million Americans don’t have money to feed themselves or their families, we can only imagine what the coming food crisis in America will look like amid a significantly deteriorating economic situation.