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Not in Our Backyard

November 3, 2009

Author: Terri Lee Freeman

Last week, The Washington Post ran an article reporting on the unexpected growth of the U.S. economy during the third quarter, a signal, the headline read, that “the recession may have ended.” Interestingly, that part of the headline in the online version of the article was later removed. And with good reason. As far as I can see, the recession isn’t over, folks — at least not inour backyard.

In the Washington region, unemployment rates are skyrocketing in Maryland and DC in particular, and the numbers of individuals and families in need of basic assistance – food, clothing, shelter and the like – have increased to the point where our safety net nonprofits are forced to turn people away as never before. As the weather turns cold, I am especially worried about people losing their homes and, at the very least, having their utilities turned off because they’re faced with deciding between buying food or keeping the heat on.
Upon closer analysis, a number of economists are saying that this “bump-up” in the markets is due to artificial factors – government stimulus funds, Cash for Clunkers, and the first-time homebuyers tax credit. New unemployment claims may have dropped slightly, but national unemployment figures in general don’t take into account the numbers of people who can’t file for unemployment insurance, or don’t know how to, or who have given up looking for work altogether and have returned to school (in record numbers I might add). In short, the newest figures are simply not an accurate indicator of what has become reality for many Americans trying to make ends meet.
The day after this article ran, a new report that consumer spending was down for the month of September confirmed my suspicion – that money is tight, the future uncertain. Not only isn’t the American public buying…they’re also not ”buying” overly optimistic reports that good times are here again.

P.S.: Join our Facebook “Neighbors in Need” page at http://facebook.com/neighborsinneed.

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