Signs of life return to area's economic landscape
Posted February 12, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — Spring may still be a few weeks off, but signs of life are beginning to appear in the region's economy:
- The number of home foreclosure notices in January declined 7.3 percent from December's volume and was 29.3 percent lower than in January 2008, according to RealtyTrac, a California-based company that tracks foreclosure data nationwide.
- The Labor Department said Thursday that the number of initial claims for jobless benefits dropped to a seasonally adjusted 623,000, from an upwardly revised figure of 631,000 the previous week. The latest tally still was above analysts' expectations of 610,000 claims, however.
- U.S. retail sales jumped 1 percent in January, reversing a six-month declining trend and defying economists' expectations by posting the biggest increase in 14 months.
"We may be seeing the declines beginning to slow, which we'd have to have before we can come back up," said Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University.
Walden said the key to getting out of the economic recession will be the creation of new jobs, which remain few and far between.
"The recession will last through most of 2009. Maybe we'll see a small, slow recovery toward the beginning of (next) year," he said.
Florist Teresa Locklear is hopeful a recovery has already started. Creative pricing has helped increase sales at her Fallon's flower shop 6 percent over a year ago.
"We're giving customers more choices in a lower price point to make it affordable for everybody," Locklear said. "We try to structure according to what we think the economy is going to do."
Business also is picking up at Carol Passley's cash-only hot dog stand in downtown Raleigh.
"It's getting a little better, getting a little better," said Passley, who has sold hot dogs for 20 years. "I'm a patient person. We'll see what happens."