Got a surprise visit from an old college buddy.
After high school, he went out and got himself an English degree. When I met him, he'd gone back to college. Like me, he was an older "non-traditional" student. We hit it off. He'd done some work as a journalist, liked it, and decided to get the degree.
After college, he worked for a while as a journalist, but ran into difficulties with management. Ethics will do that for you. He had some and management didn't.
Eventuality, he went back to college and got a degree as a machinist. It paid well. He bought a house. Sent his daughter to an expensive college. Got his piece of the American Dream.
Then the factory laid him off. The only work he could find was the night shift at Walmart. The late hours were killing him. (we aren't getting any younger) He quit. It took him six months to find another job. Now he works for a company that provides flaggers for highway construction. It pays less than $10/hour.
He dropped in because he was on a job site near my house. The company requires him to provide his own transportation. Today he had a 75 mile drive to work. The rising price of gas terrifies him.
His hope for the future? Putting a band together. That doesn't pay well either, but at least it's not flagging.
Fortunately, his wife makes decent money. They've been able to keep the house. His daughter transferred to a state college. He doesn't say it, but I can tell it hurts him to rely on his wife to bring in the majority of the household funds.
That's what three degrees and years of experience gets you these days.
Don't tell me the economy is getting better.