Do those theatrical talking heads on television really think we’re to believe there’s an economic recovery underway?  Many are scoffing at that notion and the resonating echo of “Bull!” can be heard adrift in the breeze.

A case in point is the Hoosier State Capital, Indianapolis.  The far West side was once an exuberant place to dine and entertain oneself in the 70s, 80s and 90s, yet it now resembles what many other communities across America are the enduring reality of.  The Circle City’s 38th Street is beginning to resemble a ghost town with the Tumbleweeds of despair rambling down that once vibrant thoroughfare.

Along a three-mile stretch, due East of 465, one must pass the shadows of what once was while traveling to such attractions as the Art Museum and the State Fairgrounds.  Popeye’s Chicken is no longer there.  Boarded-up are the doors where Staples once stood.  Children can no longer frolic in that entertainment venue called Chuck E Cheese.  O’ Charley’s restaurant is no longer around, neither is Tile World.  The buildings that used to house the Ponderosa Steakhouse and Olive Garden are due for demolition.  A strip mall which used to house dozens of businesses is now littered with that demoralizing graffiti called “For Lease.”  It’s gotten so bad the XXX adult video store was forced to shut its doors.

Indianapolis isn’t the only town to suffer these days and a reflection of that frustration is now being felt in places you wouldn’t dare think could.

Since the Recession started at the end of 2007 nearly 8 million jobs have been lost.  The home building industry lost a million jobs, the finance and real estate sectors have lost half a million jobs and auto manufacturing over 300,000.

Government statistics claim the unemployment rate for July was 8.3%.  That number represents the U-3 rate and is the monthly headliner.  The U-6 rate is the broadest unemployment measure used by the Labor Department and was 15% for July.

The unemployment rate for Blacks in July was 14.1%.  The rate for males and females 16 to 19 years old was 36.6%.  53.6% of Bachelor degree holders under 25 last year were jobless or underemployed.  Some 317,000 waiters or waitresses have college degrees these days.

Over 500,000 Americans have stopped looking for work and are no longer being counted amongst the ranks of the unemployed.

It’s not just numbers anymore, it’s anguish and suffering, a diminishment of esteem.

A recent CNBC poll found 92% of Americans believe the economy is either fair or poor.

Yet did you ever think things could get so bad there would be a need for armed guards in our unemployment offices?  Well, that is exactly what’s happening in Indiana.  Armed guards are now posted at all 36 full-service unemployment offices in Indiana.   Why?  Indiana Department of Workforce Development spokesman Mark Lotter claims: “Given the upcoming expiration of federal extensions and the increased stress on some of the unemployed we thought added security would provide an extra level of protection for our employees and clients.”

So … who’s paying for this extra security?  The Fed is.

I had occasion to visit one of those unemployment offices the other day.  When I walked in there was a large sign which said: “No weapons allowed in this facility.”  There was indeed an armed guard posted behind the counter watching all who came in.  I took it upon myself to approach that gentleman and ask a few questions.  When I asked if he thought it was unusual to have armed guards posted in employment offices he replied, “No.”  He conveyed it wasn’t unusual to remove a knife or two or firearm from patrons once or twice a week.  While there an unemployed man started raising his voice in anger.  The guard said: “I have my eye on him!”

So … when you hear those talking heads on TV tout the unemployment rate to be 8.3 remember it’s far more than some number.  Statistics always have names and being.  There’s pain associated with the loss of a job.  The devastating aftermath associated with something once deemed so worthwhile can only tarnish one’s thoughts with contempt.

Greg Allen’s column, Thinkin’ Out Loud, was published bi-monthly from 2009 to 2017.  He’s an author, a former nationally syndicated columnist and the founder of Builder of the Spirit Ministries in Jamestown, Indiana.  He can be reached at www.builderofthespirit.org.

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