First Person: The New Economic 'Normal' Looks Abnormal to Me

Yahoo Contributor Network

In October, Jerome Idaszak of The Kiplinger Letter, talked about the "new normal" during the extended recovery from the Great Recession. Since the economic recession was ushered in by a financial market near-collapse, a recovery from this recession will be different from recovery from others, especially since lenders will be nervous from the nightmare housing bubble burst. I'm wondering what the new normal will look like for some things I care about.

Employment

The new normal is going to continue to be underemployment where people are working in jobs below their capacity level, below their earnings potential and below a full-time commitment level. Unemployment will continue. Now at around 7.9 percent, it will be a long trudge away from this high level.

I'm worried that creeping inflation will impact employers ability to continue to fund jobs. Having gone through joblessness once recently, I don't want to be jobless in an inflationary market. Michael Moran of Daiwa Capital Markets America talks about "the housing bubble, which enabled a ramp up in consumer spending, activity that shouldn't have taken place." I'm worried now about a ramp up in consumer prices that should never take place, particularly since this impending new rental bubble seems so threatening.

Rental bubble

Will economists see rising rental prices as part of a desirable recovery or as part of a repetition of a past bubble pattern? Rental prices, for apartment, condominium, and house rentals, are rising on the pressure of greater demand alone: there are more people looking for rentals than in the pre-recession era. There is a 4% increase so far. With inflation expected to wage war against consumers, rental prices will respond to two market pressures.

My concern is that I'll find myself without a roof over my head. My income potential in my present employment is almost capped; I almost have no further options for advancement and increases in earnings. Who's to say that the options for advancement will materialize? Maybe someone else will be preferred over me. Maybe they'll vanish altogether because of cut-backs. If my rent is raised, how will I meet it?

Soaring rental prices

I find myself asking, if soaring rental indicate recovery, for whom are they good? What I'd like to see is a cap on rental prices so that (1) a new artificial bubble isn't created and so that (2) a new wave of homelessness is not created recalling Reagan years, especially if I'm in that wave.

What I'd like to see as a new normal is a roll-back to the 1930s with modest houses built that can be expanded through plans for future modularization. I'd even like to see detached garages that allow for future conversion to multiuse bungalows, even as rental spaces. Well, that's my dream, a future simplicity that can grow into splendor.

Retirement

The new normal for retirement is to continue working in retirement jobs. We see retired mathematics teachers working as shelf stockers alongside students who are in math classes the teacher used to teach. We see McDonald's caps over silvered or whitened hair. Heck, we see Betty White practicing her witty quips with Barbara Walters and Hot in LA stars.

I'm about due for thoughts of retirement. But I'm already in my retirement job. After retiring from an early career in the financial field, I took another career route. The job I have now is a favorite field for retired teachers. What job would I retire to?

Education

The new normal in education began with Princeton and has expanded. The new normal is education with no crippling student loan debt, important during recovery. With massive endowments, college costs are funded by grants; now places at universities are available to intelligent students from all demographics.

I hope to see this trend expand along with the trend for e-education. If I do retire and need a retirement job to replace my current retirees job, I figure I'll have to expand my education through higher e-education so I qualify for some other kind of retirement job.

*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a personal finance story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.

View Comments