Austin is one of 79 metro areas across the country to be officially out of the recession, according to Moody’s. Although the state of Texas is still considered to be suffering the constraints of the recession, Austin and seven other Texas cities have been given the all clear. This determination was based on an index that included employment, housing starts and home prices.
In fact, the latest poll of economist says that at least 80 percent of them agree that the recession is over. Unfortunately that piece of good news may not mean whole lot as the American economic landscape looks completely different than it did two years ago. The survey by the National Association for Business Economics released recently said to expect a slow recovery. Here are some reasons the recession recovery may be slow:
Unemployment There seems to be little doubt that the unemployment rate, which is currently 9.8 percent, will reach 10 percent by the first part of next year. Even with the number of new jobless claims down for the fourth week in the last five, layoffs continue. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has warned that unemployment is likely to remain above nine percent through 2010.
Consumer Spending Worries over unemployment affect consumer spending habits, even of those Americans who have jobs and job security. The personal saving rate is up for the first time in two decades and the cautious spending that began during the height of the recession has not changed appreciably in recent months. For example, when gas prices hit the $ 4 per gallon mark in the summer of 2008, people significantly changed driving habits. The annual American Community Survey showed that the numbers of Americans commuting to work, a habit stared during the high gas prices, remains the highest number in more than a decade. People are generally not eating out as much or making as many big purchases. It remains to be seen if holiday spending this season will help revive the suffering retail sector.
Real Estate The economists surveyed expect housing in 2010 to contribute to the overall growth of the economy for the first time since 2005. However, the census data shows that less people are moving these days, with population trends to the sunbelt states actually being reversed. Real Estate prices nationwide are down and the percentage of Americans owning homes dropped to 66.6 percent this year from the high of 67.3 percent in 2006.
Credit Even with the Dow Jones industrial going over 10,000 and banks reporting billion dollars profits, credit remains tight. A recent report from the Federal Reserve shows that households have reduced their borrowing for the seventh straight month, while at the same times banks are lowering credit limits. Banks seem to be enemy number one when it comes to this recession, yet they have to play an integral part in the recovery. Until credit for both businesses and individuals starts flowing again, employment and housing is likely to remain stagnant.