Recession deemed over, officials not so sure
by Matt Shinall
Sep 22, 2010 | 1411 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The National Bureau of Economic Research, a highly respected nonprofit economic research firm, announced Monday that America's longest recession since World War II ended in June 2009.

Analyzing various key elements of the national economy, NBER concluded that June 2009 was a "trough" month representing the beginning of a recovery and the end of an 18-month recession beginning in December 2007.

For most Americans though, a recovery has not been seen in everyday life and certainly not in unemployment numbers. The nation stands at 9.6 percent unemployment, while the state of Georgia remains a bit higher with an unemployment rate of 10 percent.

"That's an academic analysis but the fact is that in Georgia, we still have approximately 500,000 Georgians out of work and academically I think it's something to be noted but in the everyday lives of unemployed Georgians, the recession is still ongoing," said Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond in an interview Tuesday.

NBER made its announcement after reviewing a release revising the National Income and Product Accounts, which measures indicators including real Gross Domestic Product and real Gross Domestic Income. The report stated that though the recession was deemed over, "the committee did not conclude that economic conditions since that month have been favorable or that the economy has returned to operating at normal capacity."

Josh McWhorter, financial advisor and owner of Cartersville-based Black Oak Asset Management, commented on the financial and business trends that he sees both locally and nationally.

"By technical definition, the recession did end but I think it's more of a regional thing. Here in Cartersville and northwest Georgia so much of our economy is based on construction and real estate and everything else, and until that really improves the recession around here will not officially end, it will continue," McWhorter said.

The report noted that the June 2009 trough date occurred before strong growth in both the real GDP and real GDI. Real GDI is considered a reliable measure for its inclusion of additional sources of income such as undistributed corporate income which is currently being stockpiled by large corporations in fear of a "double-dip" recession. The end of this historic recession does not guarantee smoother roads ahead, it simply means that any recession hereafter is the beginning of an additional recession separate from the recession that began in December 2007.

"Obviously we are very hopeful that we will return to robust job creation but what it really says is that the recovery has been extremely modest and clearly not enough job creation to provide for those who are unemployed and out of work," Thurmond said.

Locally, McWhorter shared Thurmond's optimism that a recovery, however modest, will continue. He related the recovery into terms of personal affect on an individual's life.

"Personally, I feel like it could be -- in terms of real economic feeling towards people and their day-to-day living -- the recession feeling could last a little bit longer. There are definite signs that things are improving across the board in various industries and even in certain markets right now the real estate market has picked back up. Whether or not we've hit bottom here with us, I certainly hope so, but unfortunately you never know until you look back," McWhorter said.

For Georgians, the Department of Labor has several programs to help the unemployed including Georgia Work$, a program allowing employers to test qualified participants in an open job position temporarily before deciding to hire. Participants receive experience and training in addition to an increased likelihood of being hired. Previously, participants were limited to those receiving unemployment benefits. Now, Georgia Work$ has been opened to any unemployed Georgian.

"We've expanded eligibility for Georgia Work$ primarily to allow jobless Georgians who are not receiving unemployment benefits to participate in the program. Sixty percent of the people who are unemployed in Georgia do not receive benefits and I think it's important to give these individuals the opportunity to receive additional training which we know will help them become more marketable as they seek work in the future. With GA Work$, 63 percent of the people who participate actually find full-time jobs and with the economy continuing to struggle it's important that we do innovative things that ultimately get Georgians who are unemployed back to work," Thurmond said.

McWhorter added that although blame is tossed to Washington, D.C., for many factors, tax policy is the key to relieving individuals from the burdens of recession. Looking toward future decisions in national tax policy, he warned of how an increase in taxes could hinder recovery.

"You can go back to any historic event and see that's about as bad a policy decision as you can make. Anytime you raise taxes in a slow economic environment it's only going to inhibit consumption and consumption is 67 [percent] to 70 percent of our GDP right now. So if people aren't consuming and buying and doing all of the things they normally do because they're paying more to the government, the economy itself is not going to pick up as fast," McWhorter said.

His advise for policy-makers is a reduction in corporate taxes to incentivize job creation and increase international competition.

For more information on the Georgia Work$ initiative, contact the Cartersville Career Center at 770-387-3760. The Cartersville Career Center is located at 19 Felton Place.