The Economic Recovery Illusion

President Biden has been consistently referring to the GDP to show economic recovery, but that does not show how the average American is doing and can be deceitful. Those lower on the economic ladder are still suffering through the monetary hit caused by this pandemic.


Allison Ng, Staff Writer

Over two years after the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, loosening pandemic policies nationwide began painting everyday life with hues of normalcy once again. For many of us, these bold streaks of active recovery blot out the strictly-drawn confines of a past quarantine in which market crashes and income instability were all too common. Unsurprisingly, President Biden consistently cites to the American public our economy’s “historic progress” as clear indication of such recuperation.

To say the least, he’s not wrong. After all, CNBC commends our nation’s thriving gross domestic product (GDP), which essentially measures the total value of all goods made and services provided. 2021 closed out with the economy growing at the fastest pace ever since 1984: a notable 6.9 percent rise in GDP–well over predicted estimates. Adding to this economic boom are large, profiting corporations which, to this day, have continued to provide protections and massive dividends to shareholders during unstable times. The Washington Post finds that Walmart alone has distributed over 10 billion dollars to its investors during the pandemic. This is what Biden speaks of when he takes credit for “pulling our economy out of the worst crisis in 100 years.”

Still, spare the applause. Sure, our economy is recovering, yet what does that mean if our people are not? When we look at major corporate profits, it’s simplistic to assume all workers and smaller companies see the same growth. When we look at the increasing numbers in GDP, it’s easy to mistakenly generalize this prosperity to include all consumers, regardless of class.

Yet, at the same time GDP hit record levels, the monthly child poverty rate increased from roughly twelve to seventeen percent—the highest rate since 2020. Equating economic recovery with trends in GDP means that groups that continue to struggle beyond the statistics are overlooked. This is what Biden doesn’t address. In adopting the oversimplified rhetoric of statistics and citing solely the wealthy minority as evidence of recovery, our government neglects the realities the middle and lower-class majority of Americans endure.

These calculations put Walmart’s distribution of billions of dollars worth of dividends to its shareholders into perspective as it laid off 1,200 corporate office employees behind the curtain.

Data collected from Wall Street Journal only adds to this outrage. The Journal found that after laying off thousands of employees, most big companies proceeded to increase profit. These calculations put Walmart’s distribution of billions of dollars worth of dividends to its shareholders into perspective as it laid off 1,200 corporate office employees behind the curtain. Layoff levels are skyrocketing, especially for those with a less than $27,000 income who saw an almost 10 percent increase in joblessness. In response, Congress is found by Vox to consistently turn a blind eye, preferring instead to showcase merely an increase of upper-class employment rates and profits. Simply put, financial gain for the wealthy not only comes at the expense of the welfare of middle and lower-class workers, but our government fails to address this widening wealth gap.

Today, officials continuously encourage a false sense of optimism as they trade nuance for ideal economic assessments. Quarantine mandates are gradually being erased, but the strictly-drawn confines of one-sided economic prosperity are not. They will continue to remain until our government decides to acknowledge the groups hit hardest by COVID-19 rather than claiming a holistic post-pandemic recovery.