You fill in the blank.
How often, Charles Dickens' title, or his eternal lines ring true of now, of here, and of how we make a living.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us.
Polarization, we know it by heart. Divides, bifurcation, and disparities, imbalances, asynchronies, and asymmetries separate power, means, even hope and dreams, the few from the many. Wealth gaps, education disequilibrium, opportunity "haves" and "have-nots," upward mobility cans and can nots--these sharp divides have seized on collective psyches and begun to change communities, zip block by zip block.
In Denver, where just about every new home that can be built these days could sell two-times-over, prospective buyers are being quoted build times of up to 24 months because there's not enough labor to keep up with backlogs. Ironically, too, there are not enough affordable places for laborers to live, a vicious circle that goes back to Colorado's onerous construction defects laws, a barrier to building (more attainable) attached for-sale homes.
In some of the more labor-constrained areas, there are builders who're resorting making food-truck lunches complimentary for crews during the day as a means to keep them one more day on their sites. Otherwise, it's not uncommon for a crew to "up and leave" a site for an offer of "a few cents more" in some other subdivision.
Meanwhile, while there are markets where camp-outs among prospective buyers remind us of the mid-2000s boom years, we're also confronted with images of "radio-silent" new home communities suddenly a signal of excessive building for an economy that failed to materialize.
Recovery is not pretty, but it rarely is. In this one, unmet housing demand is becoming a bigger and bigger destabilizer and risk to supply. Economics 101, inside out, backwards, and upside down.
The Census has this look at how uneven America's jobs recovery has been to date, and this only exposes the lumpiness on a gross, state level, not the market-by-market, submarket-by-submarket geographies of the real world.
Where start-ups offer a kind of proxy for the resilience of local economies--like everything else--there are places that are winners and places that are losers. In broad strokes, the data shows that start-ups account for just about 2.0% of new job formations, whereas the historic norm is just under 4.0%. Drill down further into the geography though, and one sees that the averages mean little, because some places are thriving while others languish.
The risk, as we see it, is for us as a society and culture to make choices that further separate and sharpen and harden the differences between an increasingly small percentage of those who are able to thrive and that mass of people who may never do so.
Risk to the American meritocracy's reality would surely mean an end to the American Dream. Housing can be affordable, and should be, and homeownership should be an attainable goal for those willing to work to pay the price. But that very premise seems to dwell in the limbo that is this recovery--and it may come down to how much we all want the American Dream to be real or not.