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loving life on a hikeThe economy has added on average 202,000 new jobs each month over the past six months, and the unemployment rate is now at 7.6%.

Good news, right?

Well, a little yes and a lot no.

Of those 202,000, over 50% were part-time jobs and minimum wage jobs in the restaurant, entertainment and retail industries.  In fact, in the manufacturing industry, once a bastion of the American economy, over 60,000 jobs were lost.

Now I’m going to do a little math for you, so hang with me for a second so we can get a better perspective of this economic news.

Minimum wage in Washington State, where I live, is $9.19 per hour.  Let’s say you get a part-time job working for a convenience store and you work 25 hours per week….let’s see, that comes to $229.75 per week, or $919.00 per month.  Are you with me so far?low income

An average one bedroom home in Olympia rents for a little over $800 per month; an average studio apartment for slightly more than $610 per month.

My question is this:  how is it good news that most jobs being added to the economy are part-time, minimum wage jobs?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a pretty positive human being, and I’ve got my rose-colored glasses on now as I type this, but still…….

There was another interesting statistic that came out last week.  36% of the age group between 18-32 in the United States still live at home with their parents.  Oh my God!  I guess there is no danger of anyone suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome in the good old U.S. of A. now is there?

So here is my main point:  times are tough regardless of what the government would want us to believe.  Statistics are black and white numbers on a page.  Human beings are flesh and blood and feelings and pain and happiness and….well, people that I know and you know.

Bev and I are getting by.  We won’t be flying off to jolly old England anytime soon for a vacation, but we manage to get the bills paid monthly.  I have friends, however, who are scrambling big time to keep from losing their homes, cars and other possessions, and in fact are having a hard time paying for groceries.

As you go about your day today, try to be a tad bit more empathetic and compassionate to others.  The person you smile at today might just be the person who smiles at you when your days darken.