It's been nearly four years since COVID-19 impacted us. In the United States, the epidemic left more than a million dead and millions more suffering from ongoing health problems. Much of normal life has come to a halt, partly due to official lockdowns, but mainly because fear of infection has kept people at home.
The big question in later years was whether United State can arrive Completely recover from this effect. The answer came in 2023: yes. In reality, Our society and economy have recovered incredibly. The big question that remains is when, if ever, the population will be ready to accept the good news.
Of course, in the short term, the pandemic has had serious economic and social impacts, in ways that are more widespread and profound than almost everyone expected. Within weeks, employment fell by 25 million. Massive government aid alleviated the economic hardships faced by families, but maintaining Americans' purchasing power in the face of a crippled economy meant that demand often exceeded supply, and as a result, supply chains were strained and inflation rates rose.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has limited social interactions and left many people feeling isolated. The psychological toll is difficult to measure, but deteriorating social connections have contributed to a number of negative trends, including an increase in violent crime.
It was not difficult to imagine that the pandemic experience would leave long-term scars, that the long coronavirus and early retirement would leave a permanent decline in the labor force, that low inflation would mean high unemployment for several years, and that rising crime heralded a continuing crisis of public tranquility.
But nothing like this was achieved.
You may have heard the good news in economic matters. In fact, the Participation in work — The percentage of adults in the current labor force — is slightly higher than the Congressional Budget Office projected before the pandemic. Indicators of Core inflation The Fed's 2% target has been somewhat pushed back despite the fact that… Unemployment is approaching the lowest level not seen in 50 years. Adjusting for inflation, most workers' wages have risen.
For some reason, I don't hear much crime news, but it's also pretty good. FBI data shows that Violent crimes decreased: It has returned to 2019 levels and appears to be continuing to decline. Murders may not have returned to 2019 levels, but the numbers are falling.
None of this erases the deaths caused by the coronavirus or the troubling learning loss that has affected millions of students. But generally both Our economy and society are in much better shape now than most people expected. Of people in the early days of the pandemic or than most Americans would like to admit.
Because if the US's resilience to the impact of the pandemic is remarkable, so is the population's pessimism.
By now, anyone who writes about the economy is familiar with email and social media posts (which almost always begin with “Hey, idiot”) that say: They insist that official statistics on low unemployment and inflation are misleadingAnd not blatant lying. No, the CPI does not ignore food and energy, although some analysis indicators do; No, food prices do not continue to rise.
Rather than engage in further arguments with people desperate to find some justification for a negative economic opinion, I find it helpful to point out that no matter what American consumers say about the state of the economy, they are spending as if their finances are really bad. solid. at recent days, It seems that Christmas season sales were very good..
And regarding crime? It is an issue where population perceptions have, for a long time, been in marked contrast to reality, with people telling pollsters that crime is rising, even though it is falling rapidly. According to Gallup, currently, 63 percent of Americans say crime is a “very” or “extremely” serious problem for the United States, but only 17 percent say it is a very serious problem where they live.
Plus, Americans don't act like they're terrified of crime. As I've written before, in major city centers, weekend foot traffic — generally, the number of people visiting a city for leisure rather than work — has returned to pre-pandemic levels, which would not have been expected if Americans were fleeing. Violent urban hell.
So, no matter what Americans tell pollsters, They act as if they live in a fairly prosperous and safe country. (According to historical levels), the country is represented by official statistics, although not opinion polls. (Clarification: Yes, there is something great Inequality and social injusticeBut the situation now is no worse than in previous years, when Americans were much more optimistic.)
Of course, the big question is whether the dark narratives will prevail over the relatively bright reality in the 2024 election. According to polling data, there are signs that good economic news is starting to emerge, but I know of no similar sign. Regarding crime.
However, what we need to know is that the United States has responded very well to the economic and social challenges posed by the deadly pandemic. By most indicators, we are an improving country. we hope that Do we not lose our democracy before the people realize it?.
© New York Times 2024
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