Friday, February 6, 2009

National Economy Continues to Tank

The Morning News reports today on a speech by economist Jeff Collins at the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce banquet last night. He told them that the country has been in a recession since December 2007, but economists did not admit it until after the presidential election. Discussing such truth might have damaged President Bush's reelection campaign.

The U.S. economy has lost a staggering 3.6 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007, the greatest annual job loss on record going back to 1939. This morning the Labor Department reported the loss of 598,000 jobs in January, the most since the end of 1974, pushing the unemployment rate to 7.6 percent. The official number of unemployed workers climbed to 11.6 million.

Each job lost means more than one person is out of work due to a multiplier effect, Collins told the Chamber. Unemployed people don't shop, eat at restaurants, or visit the doctor without health insurance, so restaurant, retail and health care employees' jobs also become endangered. "This current recession obviously is affecting the psychology of individuals. Consumer confidence is hammered and people are afraid something bad will happen to them," he said, something working families already know from personal experience.

President Obama said yesterday, "We are not going to get relief by turning back to the very same policies that for the last eight years doubled the national debt and threw our economy into a tailspin." The American people "didn't vote for the status quo; they sent us here to bring change. We owe it to them to deliver."

Collins predicted that President Obama's
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will result in 32,000 new jobs in the state, mostly in central and Northwest Arkansas. Last week, Congressman John Boozman (R-AR3) voted against it.

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