Bye Bye Middle Class
MONROVIA - Pawnshop owners like Monrovia Mayor Rob Hammond are noticing the return of a regular harbinger of bad economic times - more white-collar workers in their stores.
Higher gas costs, lost jobs and other economic pressures are squeezing people higher up the economic ladder, owners said.
"We've been seeing more white-collar workers in the past six months," Hammond said. "There are two major reasons I'm hearing right now - one is the high cost of gas ... and we're hearing from more and more people that their hours were cut or their jobs were eliminated."
Pawnshops are always busy, Hammond added, but lately, they're even busier.
According to the staff at the family-owned West Covina Pawn, every day has been exceptionally busy since the economy started to tank.
A constant stream of customers crowded the store last week, hoping to get cash for their valuables, including jewelry and antique gold coins. Most said they needed the money to pay bills.
"The out-flowing money on loans has been exceptional," said Clint Toth, owner of Arts Jewelry and Loan in Whittier. "(We've seen) a lot of real estate agents, a lot of middle-class people."
Pawnshop owners said they often see the effects of a distressed economy before anyone else. When people reach the end of their ropes, they start taking out loans against their personal possessions or just selling it outright.....
One of the most alarming trends, he added, is the erosion of the middle class.
"It's very definitely a two-tier economy," Kyser said. "We're losing our middle class and nobody knows what to do to save or stabilize it."
Kyser said the sub-prime crisis has trickled down, impacting a broad range of people, including workers in the retail, auto, construction, mortgage and housing industries.
Folks, the down trend is just beginning. The lay offs are just beginning. And our President says to wait and see if $600 changes the economy. HomeDepot is laying off. California is laying off. AMD is laying off. Florida is laying off. New Jersey is laying off. Airlines are shutting down. Finance companies are shutting down. Construction companies are shutting down. Auto companies are laying off.
And people are hoping for a second half recovery? On what basis? More budget cuts? More bankruptcies? More foreclosures? More shut downs. By the time we finish the first half, it could be too late. You may want to watch this: