Friday, March 21, 2008

Ask Your Neighbor

From the Miami Herald:

For months, many economists believed neither South Florida nor the nation was in a recession or likely to enter one soon.

But in the last few weeks, those optimistic assessments have collided with new statistics showing record-high oil prices and vanishing jobs amid the escalating real estate meltdown. The experts have begun to accept what families like the Starrs have known for a while: Times are tough.

• Nearly 120,000 South Floridians were unemployed in January, up nearly 20 percent from a year earlier.

• South Florida gas prices are approaching $3.50 a gallon, up nearly $1 from this time last year.

• Nearly 7,500 homes were foreclosed upon in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in February, a whopping 150 percent increase from the same month in 2007.

”The short answer is, ‘Yes, we are in a recession,’ ” said Mark Vitner, an economist with Wachovia, who was saying as recently as last month that the nation might yet dodge the bullet.

But now, Vitner said: ”We have made that call. On a GDP basis, the declines we are looking for will be very modest. But from a man-in-the-street perspective, the slowdown is much worse than the GDP numbers would show.”

How has the the current state of the economy affected you or your neighbors?