Over One Year Later: The Economy

February 6, 2009 I wrote a post about the economy and it’s very shaky status.  (You can see that here Economic Downturn).  I asked for some answers to some pressing question about your economic situations.  The results of my questions were posted a week later (Economic Downturn Part 2). 

My question now, over a full year later is, Has anything changed?  Having come very close to the unemployment line, our family is happy to now take relocating versus unemployment.  Not everyone has that same choice however.  If you participated in my survey last year I would love for you to come forward and tell me how your situation has changed (better or worse).  If any of you have had drastic economic circumstances in the past year I would love to listen.  You can share it with me via comment or privately (and I will not share private emails unless you give me permission to do so).  Click the Email Me button for the address.

Here are the questions I asked then and I would love to hear more answers:

1. Is the US economy {or your own country} worse than you thought? Better? What economy?

2. Do you think President Obama can bring the necessary changes needed to get things back on track? If no, how would you help the economy?

3. Have you personally been affected by the economic crisis of the last year? How (loss of job, 401k, etc.)?

4. What things have you had to forgo or postpone because of the economy?

5. Where have you made the biggest cutbacks at home? (food, transportation, vacations etc.)
If you are reading from Canada I’d like it if you would chime in with your own thoughts and perspectives.
I will share the results later in the week.

Here are some current articles and facts regarding the currect state of the economy and unemployment.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment is expected to have risen to 445,000 last week from 440,000 the previous week. (Money CNN)  New reports are due out on Thursday.

A Look Ahead for Stocks (Money CNN)

The article titled “The Big Jobs Hole” by David Goldman has a good graph to show the job rates over the past year.

Unemployment rate: The unemployment rate fell from 10.0 to 9.7 percent in January and nonfarm payroll employment was essentially unchanged (-20,000). Employment fell in construction and in transportation and warehousing, while temporary help services and retail trade added jobs.

In January, the number of persons unemployed due to job loss decreased by 378,000 to 9.3 million. Nearly all of this decline occurred among permanent job losers.

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) continued to trend up in January, reaching 6.3 million. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of long-term unemployed has risen by 5.0 million. (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Please take a few minutes and answer the questions I listed above and share your opinions on how you think the economy is doing.  I’m hoping the results are more positive than a year ago.

Results of Economic Downturn Post

Response Results from my post Economic Downturn: What Are Your Thoughts?

I took bits of some of the comments and I am pasting them below.  You can find my comments at the bottom of the post.

From Rebel in Missouri:

Our grocery prices have gone up a lot, supposedly because of gas prices, which I can understand. Now that the gas prices are down groceries are still up, they now say it is because wages have gone up. I don’t know one person who got a wage increase.

In this country we just need to learn to live with less stuff. We need to relearn the basics and teach our children that havin’ everything you want is NOT essential to your happiness.

Synergy Girl said:

Economy…What economy?  Everyone is affected whether they realize it or not..personally, yes, we have been through his job and obtaining health insurance

Jules at It’s Just Me in N. Minnesota said:

I do wonder if employed people are being “scared” into believing.  I think a lot of people are still fine and are being frightened into this crisis…

Complicated Momma said:

…but the prices of everything going up and the qty in packages going down has definitely made a difference to us…

The whole Economic Crisis is just depressing…I think I need to go eat another Girl Scout Cookie. Haha

Melissa at Multi-Tasking Mama said:

My hubby just got his hours cut from 40-32.  This will be difficult for us but so many of our friends have lost their jobs entirely we are just thankful he still has one.

And, we don’t open out 401k statements right now for fear we would faint.

Vailian (expat) said:

Interest rates were too low over the last 10 years or so, the banks got lazy about checking who was creditworthy, and at the same time got even greedier.

Given the size of the recession, I am fairly lucky, but I am still worried about what will happen to my orchestra in the next couple of years, and of course I worry about job openings for my kids. (God forbid they want to move in here again…)

Brenna said:

As far as postponing, we basically live day to day.  We budget as best we can but don’t make any real long term plans because of the instability.

Alyson at New England Living said:

I’ve felt such a blues over the economy and then when my husband and I looked very closely over the numbers, we aren’t doing all that differently than in a normal economy. The media has definitely had a negative impact on the American psyche.

Irish Gumbo said:

1: Worse.

2: He can help, but it can’t be done by him alone.

3: Laid off last December. Erk.

I found the results of my questions very interesting.  Almost everyone said the crisis had some sort of effect on them personally.  And for others it was someone they knew who was affected.  What I think is that there are a lot of people out there seriously scared and worried about what is going to happen next.  I don’t follow enough of the discussion to have an opinion on the stimulus package and whether it’s good or bad (though I was surprised at the “stop printing money” comments several of you made, I hadn’t expected opposition to it).

As for us personally we know a lot of people who lost their jobs.  With my husbands employer having closed (with very few exceptions) all domestic service in the US, this means if we want to go home in 13 months, there will be no job there for us to go to.  That is an incredibly distressing thought (hubby says stop worrying but I certainly can’t help it).

I feel for every one of you who have lost a job, might lose a job or have a spouse who lost a job.  So many bloggers I read have lost jobs and are out of work.  (Incidentally Clark Kent’s Lunchbox needs input from out of work dads.  Please see the PSA and link in my sidebar for info or click the above link!)  It is very hard to think about all the people struggling in what is supposed to be the ‘greatest country’.   I hope each of you has a redeeming story somewhere down the line.  If you do and if things get better (or worse) please come back and tell me about it.  I’d love to post a “What’s Happened Since” post about all of you who have commented.  I left in the couple of humorous asides in a few of the above comments.  Everyone needs a good laugh.  

Vailian if your kids move back in maybe Complicated Momma can send you some Girl Scout Cookies!

Thank you for sharing your stories with me!

Economic Downturn: What are your thoughts?

This economic crisis has been on my mind a lot lately.  It is hard for me to fathom exactly what is happening being located so far away from the direct impacts.  This week alone I read several very insightful posts from other bloggers around the globe focused on the US crisis (and it’s no longer simply a US crisis, it’s now worldwide, but I’m focusing on the US for now).
Diane at Martini’s For Two posted her thoughts at this blog post entitled That’s What I Call Stimulating!  Please take a moment to read her thoughts.  She’s an expat like me.  
Another good post I read was from Coach Blogger entitled Looking To Be Led  Some thoughts on our new President.
Carol at Northwest LadyBug always keeps it real.  These are just some places in her local Seattle that are on the layoff list in her post Would the Last Person to Leave Seattle Please Turn Out the Lights?  A most delightful account of recent layoffs from companies around every economic sector.
I could go on but I think you get the idea that the economy is on everyones minds these days.  So I wanted to get a good feel for what is going on with real American’s in everyday life.  I’ve put together some questions I hope you’ll answer at the end of this post.  It doesn’t matter what you believe political, socially, religiously; it doesn’t matter where you live, in a city or sleepy village, Utah or New York, that’s not the point.  I want to know what the downturn of the economy means to you and yours.  Feel free to leave your thoughts anonymously if you prefer. 
I’ve done some homework on everything and I have the following “fun” facts and figures (and their sources).  Tell me what you think of what the experts say.
    Unemployment rate in January 2009 – 7.6%  (comparatively Cologne, Germany 11%)
    Highest jobless rate in 17 years
    Source – Yahoo News

    Top companies reporting large layoffs:
    Catepillar Inc, Pfizer Inc, Microsoft Corp, Estee Lauder Cos., Time Warner Cable, Sprint Nextel Corp, Office Depot, Macy’s, GM, Ford, Sharp, DHL (with 7500 jobs in last cut, that was personal to me and my family, though we still do have a job at present), Dow Chemical, Sony, Principal Financial Group, Starbucks and AT&T.  
    And some big numbers to think about: 
    Bank of America to cut 35,000 jobs in the next three years
    Credit Suisse Group, DuPont and Viacom 34,000 jobs among the three
    Source: Money CNN 

    Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group said the jobless rate will peak to close to 10% by 2010.
    Job Loss State by State:

    Top Ten States in order and Number of Jobs Lost:

    • Michigan         241,833
    • California        189,749
    • Ohio                 159,061
    • Texas                137,191
    • Indiana              111,665
    • Florida              99,199
    • Illinois              93,763
    • New York         82, 357
    • Tennessee        79,424
    • Pennsylvania   76,759


    To see where your state placed visit: Money CNN

    I would like to know your response the following questions if you are willing to answer them.  I’d even love to hear what other expats around the globe have to say as well so please post your answers in the comments.
  1. Is the US economy worse than you thought?  Better? What economy?
  2. Do you think President Obama can bring the necessary changes needed to get things back on track?  If no, how would you help the economy?
  3. Have you personally been affected by the economic crisis of the last year?  How (loss of job, 401k, etc.)?
  4. What things have you had to forgo or postpone because of the economy?  
  5. Where have you made the biggest cutbacks at home?  (food, transportation, vacations etc.)
I’m going to leave this up for a few days and then I’ll put up a post with the top answers later next week.
And please no one go jump off a bridge or something after reading this!  There is an end (somewhere) in sight to the economic madness, it’s just not going to happen overnight.
~Absolutely wonderful responses and comments.  Keep them coming I’ve been reading them and keeping track of them all for next week.~