- - Thursday, April 10, 2014

The news is filled with bleak reports that continue to cast a pall of gloom over many Americans who say life for them is a daily struggle.

Two deeply troubling stories appearing in the papers this week were typical of the growing problems that afflict so many Americans in a still very weak, job-deficient, low-paying economy.

A front-page story in The Washington Post under the headline “A choice between buying books and eating” reports that “more college students are going hungry.”

“The number of food pantries on college campuses has increased rapidly in the past six years — especially at colleges with a lot of low-income or first-generation students,” the newspaper said.

The number of college campuses that have begun charity food banks for poorer students (who cannot afford the college’s meal plan) has skyrocketed from one in 2007 to 121 this year.

“Campuses across the country are starting to realize that there is that sector of people who don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said Nate Smith-Tyge, director of the Michigan State University Student Food Bank.

Another story, under the headline “In rocky job market, more moms stay at home,” is a familiar tale in the Age of Obama.

“More mothers have been staying home with their children since the recession ended, but a growing number of them say that’s primarily because they can’t find a job,” according to a new survey study by the Pew Research Center.

“With incomes stagnant in recent years for all but the college-educated, less-educated workers in particular may weigh the cost of child care against wages and decide it makes more economic sense to stay home,” Pew said.

Notably, it added that “stay-at-home fathers represent a small but growing share of all stay-at-home parents.” They can’t find jobs, either.

Mothers who can stay at home during the early years of their children’s development are, of course, a big plus. Still, for many women who are having trouble making ends meet, a second income can be critical to pay the rent and just surviving — that is, if their husbands have a job. In other cases, a working mother may be the only breadwinner.

These stories are symptomatic of the growing troubles that continue to fester and spread throughout the Obama economy. Others are even more endemic.

When the unemployment numbers for March came out last week, the news media had a field day turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley seemed ecstatic that many discouraged, long-term unemployed, who had quit looking for a job, have now re-entered the workforce. OK, but they were still unemployed.

The economy created a paltry 192,000 last month out of a potential workforce of 160 million Americans. That’s far below what is needed to bring the unemployment rate down to more normal, full-employment levels of 5 percent to 6 percent.

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