Economic recovery still feels like a recession - East Valley Tribune: Business

Economic recovery still feels like a recession

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Posted: Sunday, December 7, 2003 2:24 am | Updated: 12:59 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Lee McPheters, ASU economist, was talking last week about the improved job outlook for 2004.

Someone asked if this was a good time to ask the boss for a raise.

"I’d wait a year-and-half," he said.

Another perspective came from Ruth Marant, a Tempe resident, who told the Tribune’s Troy Emenecker: "I keep hearing that the market is doing well, but it doesn’t seem like the economy is."

Actually, the economy is better. Or at least it looks better on paper — it just doesn’t feel that way.

Despite good news of late, there is still one big problem for the local, state and national economy: Job creation remains weak.

Economists devine if the economy is good or bad through measurements such as gross domestic product — or GDP. GDP goes up, you’re growing and you are not in recession. That’s why economists can say this recession ended almost two years ago when rest of us talk about the recession in present tense.

Most of us measure the economy’s health two ways: How the stock market is doing, which is a distant second, and how many jobs are available.

A scarcity of jobs affects not only the unemployed, but also the rest of us who work for a living. When unemployment is high, there’s the nagging fear that we will lose our jobs. There’s doubt about pressing the boss for more compensation. There’s angst of enduring a work situation you dislike for fear that there won’t be another job if you leave.

I remember 1999 and 2000 as heady times, but not because my market portfolio (I had none) or my 401(k) were growing at rapid rates. It was because for the only time in my life, I was offered jobs I never applied for. I learned about the mechanics of IPOs and stock options because they were involved in a potential compensation I was considering. The offer was with a company in tune with the times — a dot-com that went bust before 2000 ended.

Anyway, leaner times are always difficult, even if you believe Anthony Chan, an economist with Banc One Investments.

In town for an economic forecast luncheon, he called this downturn one of the mildest in history.

I think that’s something akin to the old line about how minor surgery is surgery on someone else. A mild recession happens to someone else or somewhere else.

A down turn doesn’t hit everyone and everywhere equally. Arizona has actually been fortunate than most this time. Through September, we were eighth in jobs created. In healthcare, we were third — adding 10,000 jobs in the previous year.

So if you are involved in healthcare, this might be the time to ask for a raise.

If you are in manufacturing, these are bleak times indeed. The state has lost 40,000 jobs in that sector since 2000.

There are no signs of that improving.

Until it does, I doubt we’ll feel like this is much of recovery.

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