Posts Tagged ‘job insecurity’

New Economic Reality Impacts Everyday Life

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

The long recession has dramatically impacted the lives of all Americans, according to demographic data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Commutes are lengthier; people are not moving; immigration is down; and couples are delaying marriage.  The annual American Community Survey report, based on information gleaned from three million households, highlights how deeply the recession impacted all Americans.car_pool_only_lane

The number of people who drive solo to work fell last year to 75.5 percent, the lowest in a decade.  Yet, the average commute time rose to 25.5 minutes, as people left home earlier in the morning to pick up car-pooling co-workers.  Mobility is at a 60-year low, which will impact congressional district reapportionment based on 2010 census data.  The number of foreign-born individuals living in the United States fell to less than 38 million, after reaching an all-time high in 2007.

Of Americans over the age of 15, 31.2 percent reported that they had never been married, the highest percentage in a decade.  According to the survey, the number of unmarried Americans started climbing when the housing market downturn started in 2006.  Sociologists believe that young people are taking more time to achieve economic independence because they are having trouble landing well-paying jobs or are studying for advanced degrees.

“The recession has affected everybody in one way or another as families use lots of different strategies to cope with a new economic reality,” according to Mark Mather, associate vice president of the not-for-profit Population Reference Bureau.  “Job loss – or the potential for job loss – also leads to feelings of economic insecurity and can create social tension.”  With unemployment still rising, Mather notes that “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Home Sales, Values on the Rise; Consumer Confidence Down

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Sales of new and existing homes rose in June for the third straight month, due primarily to low prices and attractive mortgage rates.  Home sales also rose 11 percent over the previous month. The federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers helped to drive the uptick.  Additionally, home prices rose for the first time in three years in May, a sign that the market might be stabilizing.

nhsaprilAccording to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, home prices have fallen more than 32 percent from their 2006 peaks.  The pace of the decline slowed in May for the fourth consecutive month.  “This could be an indication that home price declines are finally stabilizing” after plunging to levels last seen six years ago in 2003, noted David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee.

On the downside, the weakening job market battered consumer confidence in July, possibly delaying a quick economic recovery.  The U.S. Conference Board’s consumer confidence index fell to 46.6 in July from 49.3 in June.  A recent Reuters survey had forecast that the June reading would be 49.  This erosion in confidence is in tune with the rising percentage of Americans who say jobs are hard to find.  Unemployment has hit a 26-year high, with several states reporting double-digit numbers.

“People are getting a bit discouraged.  Jobs are not coming as quickly as expected,” according to John Silvia, chief economist with Wells Fargo.  “This won’t be a V-shaped recovery for either the economy or the jobs market.”

Santa Claus Doesn’t Deliver Consumer Confidence

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Consumer confidence fell to an all-time low in December, despite the fact it was in the midst of the annual Christmas-shopping frenzy.  The reasons for this new low include deepening job insecurity, fast-deteriorating housing markets, and declining asset values. According to the Conference Board, the Consumer Confidence Index fell to 38 in December, compared with the 44.7 reported during November.  The Present Situation index, which measures respondents’ attitudes to business conditions and employment prospects, fell to 29.4 in December, compared with 42.3 in November.  That is close to the levels last seen during the 1990-1991 recession.

santa-claus-doesntWith the nation’s unemployment rate rising to 6.7 percent during November, the Board warns of more layoffs during the first six months of 2009.  Respondents to the Conference Board’s survey of 5,000 American households who believe that jobs are “hard to get” rose to 42 percent in December, from 37.1 percent during the previous month.

This consumer confidence extends to commercial real estate, where values are in a gray zone, awaiting the inevitable write downs and workouts that will attend a slow recovery.  Until this happens, many buyers and sellers feel in limbo.  The simple formula to fix this is:  somebody needs to get off the dime.  To quote a couple of clichés, nothing succeeds like success and no news isn’t always good news in a credit crunch.