The Great Recession continues to take a tragic toll on the US middle class. Although credit markets are unfrozen and economic activity has drastically improved since the SP 500 hit 666 in March of 2009, the tsunami after the quake is still in full force.
Non-Business Bankruptcies are Up 21% Since Last Year
Yesterday, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts announced non-business bankruptcies leaped 21% in the past 12-months. That's a lot more people who won't be busting down doors during either the back-to-school or holiday season. Here is a more detailed breakdown of where debtors are folding:
This trend is particularly scary when considering that "quarterly filings surpassed 400,000 for the first time since a record 667,431 bankruptcies were begun in the fourth quarter of 2005, when Congress overhauled federal bankruptcy laws and made it harder for people and businesses to file." Apparently, the new laws haven't made it too hard to file if you are genuinely broke.
Riots Over Public Housing
Last week in Atlanta, 30,000 people showed up to apply for Section-8 public housing. However, the Housing Authority had only 13,000 applications to distribute. You can guess what happened next when the stakes were as high as shelter: riots. Yup. The under-class is rising so fast, the government can't supply enough basic necessities to meet skyrocketing demand.
All-Time Record Number of Food Stamp Recipients
There may be riots over housing, but to date the government has prevented all hell from breaking loose by distributing all-time record numbers of food stamps every month. The total monthly amount of food stamps has already more than doubled since the end of 2007. Juxtapose that with the lines for Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 4, and you're staring right into the soul of the emerging Two-Class America.