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 Boston.com/Boston 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?
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.)