Monday, September 28, 2009

Lucky us/Yay, us!

Well, the upside of living in an area that a) isn't dominated by manufacturing, and b) wasn't part of the recent speculative real estate run up: "The Commonwealth" (of Massachusetts, that is - there are other commonwealth states) is starting to make it's way out of the recession a bit sooner than the rest of the country.

Our job losses have slowed, and are far lower than that of the overall country. Job growth is actually occurring. Home sales are up. We haven't had a single bank failure - there have been 100 across the country since the recession began.

All this was reported in Globe yesterday.

Of course, we do suspect a bit of boosterism at play here. (Over the weekend, one of our main-man sportswriters had a charming little piece on why the Red Sox were wise not to exert any energy trying to beat the Yankees, when the Red Sox were pretty much guaranteed a place in the post season and, thus, should be saving the energy of their stars. This article was homerism to end all homerism, as far as I'm concerned. When you play the Yankees, you play to beat the Yankees. Which, unfortunately, didn't quite happen this past weekend.)

As for the economy, whatever element of homerism was in the Globe article, it sure dovetails with the feeling around here. Which is, as long as we don't look at our 401K's, runs pretty much along the lines that you wouldn't know there was a recession on.

Yes, some restaurants have closed. But restaurants are always closing.

And, yes, we do have some mighty ugly holes in the ground that don't seem to be turning into luxury high rise condos anytime soon.

And, yes, the Talbot's on School Street in Boston has shuttered its red door.

And, yes, the state and local governments have less money, so we now have to pay a tax on bottled booze. I think this went into effect a couple of months ago, but I guess I haven't bought anything in a liquor store since then. Yesterday, I bought a couple of bottles of wine, and there it was: tax.  (For all the pissing and moaning people did about this new tax, let's face it: buying beer, wine, or Stoli is not exactly a necessity of life. It ought to be taxed. And shame on those aginners who waste gas and their time - although, apparently, with no opportunity cost - to drive to NH to avoid the revenooer and load up in the live-free-or-die state liquor stores.)

This aside, when I look out my window,  it just doesn't seem like the worst recession since the Great Depression. The city seems bustling. The restaurants seem full. Tourists seem to be taking up than more of their fair share of our narrow sidewalks.

Since my career has been in high tech, I always know people who have just been laid off. At this point in time, I barely know a sole on the dole.

Sure, I read about what it's like to live in Elkhart, Indiana. And about the tract housing ghost towns in Arizona. And about the median house price in Detroit (about $7K, if you can imagine it).

The only indicator I have is a friend who's doing consulting while looking for a full-time senior marketing position. His consulting is going great - he just wants to be working for a company "for real". And another friend who's been out of work a while and whom I believe is a victim of age discrimination as much as she's a victim of the bad economy.

Other than that....

Unlike in past recessions, when we seem to have been hit hard, this is a kinder, gentler downturn.

High tech hasn't been hit that badly. We have financial services, but we're not Wall Street. We have a lot of education and healthcare employment. And we apparently do a lot of exporting. Who knew?

Booyah, Massachusetts.

Okay. It's not like we're living in boom town: our unemployment rate is still 9 percent-ish.

And it's hard to take all that much satisfaction in our local economy when you do read about those in Elkhart, Detroit, Phoenix, etc. And when it's pretty clear that a lot of the bedrock jobs in some of the bedrock communities of the nation aren't coming back any time soon. (I'm not especially fond of the tea-bag brigade, but I do get that people are scared.)

Still, if all politics is local, all economics kind of is, too.

So, yay us! (And lucky us, too.)


Rick said...

"For all the pissing and moaning people did about this new tax, let's face it: buying beer, wine, or Stoli is not exactly a necessity of life. It ought to be taxed."

Actually, alcohol is already taxed quite a bit at the wholesale level. That is what is so annoying about applying the sales tax to booze: first they make the stuff expensive by taxing it at wholesale, then they charge you a sales tax on the high price caused by the wholesale tax. That means that the next time they are in a taxing mood there will probably be another increase in wholesale booze taxes, which will have the benefit to the state of raising the retail prices and thus add to sales tax income.

Hey, if we want to maintain the current level of state expenditures, they have to increase taxes on something, and taxing booze makes more sense than taxing food, but still it is annoying. Although I would never go to NH to beat the tax, having that option there tempers the enthusiasm of our pols to raise taxes on booze even higher. Who knows, maybe if it becomes really difficult for pols to raise any taxes any further, they might be forced to stop wasting money; far fetched concept, I know, but theoretically conceivable.

John said...

Sentiments here in Houston are similar. We've suffered much less than others, thanks in part to our local industry (energy), and we never had a real estate bubble so housing is slower but not bad. There are a number of big real estate development projects that are stalled (oh, so much for that promised nearby Whole Foods!). But overall, things are not too bad here.

That said, the people I know who are job hunting are finding things pretty ugly out there. Hiring is very slow. We have added a couple of people, mostly backfills; unclear what we will do on the hiring front next year (though we are asking for some new positions to be filled).

Local government budgets are VERY tight; given the incredibly regressive tax system in Texas (no income tax, making us very dependent on sales taxes and property taxes and various use-based taxes which have declined in the last year or so); plus of course our governor who rejects stimulus money because it's "socialism" except of course when it's not.

Pink Slip Websitel said...

My heart goes out to all those who've been pink slipped, especially in this Christmas season. There isn't anything funny about this situation, but sometimes it's good to have a laugh, watch my webisode Pink Slip on youtube. It's a romantic comedy in rough economic waters and it asks "how far would you go to survive when you've been pink slipped? Google Pink Slip - Part 1- Suzie, then view Pink Slip - Part 2 - Max and then Pink Slip - Part 3 - Christmas...and look for Pink Slip - Part 4 - The Dance, coming first week of January?

Muriel Campbell said...

I know you are hurting if you have been pink slipped...and that's why I wrote the zany, romantic comedy webisode on youtube and viewed from our Pink Slip website at
Pink Slip asks the question "How far would you go if you've been pink slipped?" See Pink Slip - Part 1 - Suzie, Pink Slip - Part 2 - Max and Pink Slip - Part 3 - Christmas from the website or google the first 2 parts, view on youtube and then see part 3 by clicking the thumbnail next to paer 2...You can also follow our lovers Suzie and Max on twitter ny clicking Answer Suzie on the website...Hang in there...we are pulling for all of you...and though it's not a laughing matter, sometimes a laugh is just what is needed.

Muriel Campbell said...

My heart goes out to all who have been pink slipped....but sometimes it's good to take a short break from the job search and laugh. That's why I wrote Pink Slip, a youtube webisode you can view at our website Pink Slip at: http;//
Pink Slip is a romantic comedy for tough economic asks the question, how far would you go, if you were pink slipped....I hope it makes you laugh a bit...and I hope you find your dream job soon.

Pink Slip Websitel said...


Pink Slip Website said...

Did you know that Pink Slip, a webisode on youtube, now has its own Pink Slip website where you can go to and view all episodes, read about the actors & producers, connect to Pink Slip's twitter page & to our brand new Pink Slip fan page on Facebook, called Pink Slip - a comedy webisode - by Muriel Campbell. Join the dialogue & tell us about your New Years' resolutions, your hopes & dreams for the New Year & most of all let us know how your job search is going. Pink Slip wishes you all the best in the New Year.

Pink Slip - Part 1 - Suzie said...

I hope that things get better soon and everybody finds their dream job...until that time, please watch Pink Slip - Part 4 - The Dance on youtube. If you have trouble finding it, just go either to youtubeBroadcast yourself and then type in the title or go to Pink Slip - Part 3 - Christmas which is on google & then click on part 4's thumbnail next to it.

Thanks and hang tough!


Pink Slip - Part 1 - Suzie said...

Pink Slip - Part 1 - Suzie is now up on, with Pink Slip - Part 2 - Max to follow a week from this coming Thursday. Our MEVIO url is:

I know things are tough now, but as you look for a job, take a few minutes out to laugh.

Our hearts are with you.