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Economic Realities

By Dian Vujovich

Word today from the number keepers in Washington is that the economy grew faster in the third quarter of this year than it has in the past two years. And, that the recession may be over. That’s good, right?

On the other hand, reasons given for the growth stem from things like government programs such as the Cash for Clunkers car program and incentives for first-time home buyers. Once government incentives of any type stop, critics say, so will growth. Who knows.

Economic news aside, while people may like hearing about economic growth and that the recession may be over, when it comes right down to it if things aren’t any better for them in their own personal financial lives, all that that news amounts to is akin to a lot of hot air.

With unemployment rates high and expected to go higher next year, salaries near stagnant–except for a few and those in banking or on Wall Street—for many there’s little to jump up and down about no matter what’s being said about the economy.

Walk Worth Avenue and see the number of shoppers meandering the streets these days and you won’t find many. Count the number carrying bags from local merchants and you won’t have to use all of your fingers and toes.

Check out the number of patrons in local restaurants on any given evening and the count is about the same—not many.

But while things may look like, in the words of Elton John, ” A sad sad situation that’s getting more and more absurd, ” there’s always hope.

Merchants I’ve spoken with this week are optimistic about the upcoming season. “Rich people are tired of not spending, ” one shop owner told me yesterday. “It’s time for those with the means to start spending again.”

It is time for those with the means to begin spending. As I’ve written before, it’s the consumer who drives the economy. While government boosts can help, it’s people like you and me who keep America humming.

So start humming. And if you’ve got the means, start spending.

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