Less than one month after President Joe Biden proclaimed the state of the union triumphantly resilient, American workers remain throttled by inflation, high on drugs, and low on life. In other words, the state of the union is an expensive, drug-addicted nation in decline.
According to findings from a new Salary Finance survey reported by CNBC Wednesday, 1 in 5 workers is running out of money between paychecks. Estimates from Bloomberg Economics predict U.S. households will spend another $5,200, or $433 a month, for the same basket of goods as last year.
“The excess savings built up over the pandemic, and increases in wages, will cushion those costs, and allow spending to expand at a decent pace this year,” Bloomberg reported. “But accelerated depletion of savings will increase the urgency for those staying on the sidelines to join the labor force, and the resulting increase in labor supply will likely dampen wage growth.”
With eligible tax-paying adults receiving a maximum of $3,200 in direct stimulus checks since March 2020, however, no Americans are immune to the inflation machine fed by the government’s cash payments and excessive unemployment benefits which lasted through last summer.
For some Americans trying to cope with the stress of rising prices, drugs have become an appealing pipeline to an alternative reality from Biden’s crises. According to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, positive drug tests among American workers reached a two-decade high despite many employers suspending tests in light of nationwide labor shortages.
“The proportion of U.S. workers who tested positive for the various drugs Quest [Diagnostics Inc.] screened for in 2021 rose to 4.6%, the highest level since 2001, according to Quest, which analyzed nearly nine million overall urine tests last year on behalf of employers,” the paper reported. “That percentage is more than 31% higher than the low of 3.5% a decade ago, in the early days of a resurgent heroin epidemic in the U.S.”
The spike in drug use coincides with a 25 percent spike in alcohol-related deaths during the pandemic, rising from nearly 79,000 in 2019 to more than 99,000 in 2020. In November, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported deaths from opioids rose almost 30 percent in the 12-month period ending April 2021, surpassing 100,000 for a new record.
Despite the introduction of a novel virus disproportionately killing obese people, Americans aren’t eating healthier either. Diabetes joined opioids to eclipse a six-figure death total in both 2020 and 2021. According to the latest CDC data, less than 30 percent of Americans are reported to be at a metabolically healthy weight, with more than 42 percent considered medically obese.
Given the deterioration of personal finances and baseline health, it should be no surprise that a declining number of Americans claim to be “thriving.”
Gallup reported Wednesday that life satisfaction ratings have reached a 13-month low.
“The percentage of Americans who evaluate their lives well enough to be considered ‘thriving’ on Gallup’s Live Evaluation Index was 53.2% in February, the lowest since January 2021,” the survey firm found. “Since reaching the 14-year high mark of 59.2% in June, the thriving rate has declined six percentage points.”