"How the 99 Percent Live in the Great Recession"

May 10, 2013

If the stock market these days is surging higher and higher, and if corporations near and far are reporting record-setting profits, why is the American middle class struggling to get by with less and less pay for more and more work? And why, in the years since the Great Recession first hit, does every facet of business and industry seem to have bounced back except for the American work force? On this installment of ST, we speak with Barbara Gordon, an award-winning play­wright, journalist, and author, whose latest book is "Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Live in the Great Recession." As was noted of this compelling, often alarming book in the Los Angeles Times: "In the official estimation of government economists, the Great Recession ended in 2009. But in Barbara Garson's new book, it lives on. And for the people whose stories she tells, the Great Recession may never die.... 'Down the Up Escalator' is best read as a kind of travelogue through a beaten-down-but-not-broken United States.... [It is] an engaging, insightful account of the changes that have swept through an America where good, hard-working people are learning to make do with less money, less opportunity, and less free time.... A willingness to portray the complexity of Americans' personal responses to macroeconomic disaster helps make Garson's book a lively read, despite its grim subject matter. So many books that treat the subject of economic restructuring portray working Americans as hapless victims. Garson is too sharp an observer, and too honest a writer, to do that...[and] her lucid book makes it clear that with each new crisis the American people will survive by digging deeper into their supplies of creativity, courage, and humor."