I have no hard data. Yet. But when we asked folks last week to take their economic pulse, the 50-plus responses we got were surprisingly encouraging.
We’ve been asking Minnesotans MPR’s Public Insight Network for months to tell us what the month ahead looks like for their personal economies. Through most of the winter and early spring, the responses were fairly dreary. Most were worried about their economic situations and expected things to be worse in the coming month.
There’s still a lot of fear out there. But it’s tempered by a growing sense that an upswing may be underway.
Could be the Fed’s recent statement that the recession, officially, is nearly over and that the state’s unemployment problems are starting to stabilize. Minnesota’s jobless rate hit 8 percent in August, down a tick from July.
And the stock market is clawing out of a very deep hole that sunk many retirement dreams.
Carole Rydberg, a retired social worker from Plymouth, wrote us:
I expect to be quite stable in terms of monthly income. We are retired and on Social Security. We have always been frugal people and still are but do manage to have all necessities and some luxuries as well. Our net worth has certainly decreased (and investment income along with it) and we do hope that this will rebound gradually during the next year.
Real estate values, the single largest source of wealth for many of us, are bottoming out after a steep decline.
Bruce Morlan of Northfield told us his October economy is looking better because, “I finally rented out my old house, below cost but better than nothing.”
Things were improved enough that he was considering buying himself a modest birthday present, though he added, “I am putting off buying a car (again).”
Sue Estee described her current situation as “holding steady … Right now I think we are OK. It looks like the business my husband works for has picked up slightly.”
But Estee also knows things are staying hard for many Minnesotans. She runs the Second Harvest food bank in Grand Rapids and reminds us that what appears to be a recovery isn’t touching everyone.
It will take a long time for things to get better for the people we serve. We have had a 13% increase in the numbers of households seeking assistance from food shelves the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.
We expect the trend to continue at least until next spring sometime. It will take a while for an improving economy to trickle down.
You can help us track the economy by telling us your personal economic forecast for the coming month. Check the map below for stories Minnesotans are telling us about the job climate around them.