KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Economic issues have already dominated the 2012 presidential campaign, and for good reason. Americans are living on less. In some cases, they're living on just a fraction of what they made three years ago.
Jay Barnhart is trying to make a living selling homes and developing land. However, many developments nowadays look don’t look complete. That’s because the housing crisis slowed home permits and sales.
"Our lots were at $44,000 a lot, and we sold the last five this year at $24,000 a year," Barnhart said as he explained the difference between 2008 and 2012.
In 2008, Barnhart sold about 50 lots. So far this year, he's sold just five. Do the math, and Barnhart says he's living on 25 percent of what he did three years ago.
“Just because you want something, doesn't mean you go out and get it now," he reflected.
After the slowdown, Barnhart began to sell off his assets, including a lake house.
“You don't have that third car in the garage. You don't hand your kid a credit card to go get gas and pop and whatever they want now. It's devastating," Barnhart explained.
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures, many Americans are feeling the pinch, too. The median income in Kansas in 2010 was $49,687. A year later, that number fell to $48,964.
A smaller slide in income was found in Missouri. In 2010, the median Missouri income was $45,600. The median income in 2011 dipped to $45,247.
In building and developing, the loss meant cutting back.
“We put our boots back on and went out to work," Barnhart explained.
So, instead of contracting out specific jobs, he does them himself.
“The painter, the foundation company, the roofer, the HVAC guy, just everybody; you take money out of everybody's pocket and it takes money out of the economy," he said sadly.
He's optimistic the trickle-down effect is coming to an end and said his confidence in the housing industry is growing.
But while he points out that building permits and sales are up, he said he knows it will take years to restore his business to what it was in 2008.
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