Our customers are small businesses who are surviving against the chains in their towns and nonprofit organizations that rely on the kind hearts of others to help support their causes. Gallup reported that the total number of new business start-ups and business closures per year, known as "the birth and death rates of American companies," just crossed to the bad for the first time since this measurement began. Annually, 400,000 new businesses are being born nationwide, while 470,000 are dying each year across the country. Up until the recession began, startups outpaced business failures by 100,000 per year. If small businesses continue to die at this pace, disastrous consequences for our economy and way of life are right around the corner. Our Main Street American businesses still find it difficult to borrow the funds they need to expand their business. If you read the news, it says bank loans are easier to come by, but I have not talked to even one of our customers who tell me banks are happy to help them.
Not only have small businesses not bounced back from the recession, but as reported in USA Today, many households have not yet rebounded from the downturn. According to the Federal Government's Report on the Economic Well-Being of US Households, 34 percent of families are worse off or much more worse off financially than they had been five years earlier. Educational debt was held by 24 percent of the population, averaging $25,750 per person. Forty-three percent of households said they could not cover a major out-of-pocket cost for a medical expense and 25 percent said they had not visited a dentist in the last 12 months because they could not afford one. Also, 31 percent of Americans have no retirement savings. On top of this, The Washington Post just reported 77 million Americans have debt in collections (35 percent of consumers with credit files). These collection agency involved debts are non-mortgage bills, like credit card bills, child support payments and medical bills. Ask your neighbor on either side of you, "Is the recession over for them?"
Ask your favorite charity if the recession is over for them, too. Last year, total giving to charity organizations, according to Charity Navigator, was $335 Billion, down from the pre-recession level of $350 Billion. Individuals gave 72 percent of this total. Last year, in America, 610,042 people were experiencing homelessness each night. Twenty states saw an increase in overall homelessness. According to Newsweek, 42.5 million American adults (18.2 percent) suffer from some mental illness, enduring conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. That hit home for me when my favorite actor, Robin Williams, just died. Close to one in five of us are feeling like Robin and is America built to have the support system to help? Feeding America reports that 15.9 million children under the age of 18 (one in five of our kids) live in a household without enough food to eat and are unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life. We are struggling to help our homeless, to help those suffering from mental disorders and to help our children. This recession is not over for them.
Once again, we as individuals must step in to fill this gap created by this sluggish economy. Our real hope to recovery is supporting those charities that will make a difference while this economy gets back on track. Here is a link to all the Feeding America Food Banks in your area so you can donate to help others. Here is a link to helping Meals On Wheels, which brings together 5,000 local nutritional programs for seniors and delivers over 1 million meals a day. Here is a link to help the National Coalition for the Homeless who help those experiencing homelessness. And at DollarDays on our Facebook page, we are giving away $5,000 worth of products to nonprofits to use for their causes, so please nominate a charity that deserves our help.
Where is the good news to get us out of this funk of no growth and the pain of the recession still lingering for businesses and individuals? It is not coming from the Middle East or from Europe or from our own government who has confused our economy with sequestration, shutting itself down and continual battles over health care, debt ceiling and budgets. This has to be a grass roots effort from all of us to buy local, help those in need and donate more than we normally would to support this economy. Our economy is the basis for our society. When our economy is stable our society will take care of our businesses and the individuals in need. At that point is when we can declare that the recession is over.