Survived 2009, hopeful for 2010?

Sylvia Chandler sums up her 2009 economic story in two words: “Lost income.”

Like so many Minnesotans, she took a financial hit last year. She’s a little more optimistic about her 2010, but only if the overall U.S. economy holds its ground. “If things should get worse nationally,” the Chanhassen ballet instructor says, “I would not be able to improve things personally either. ”

Most of us could not wait to rip the 2009 calendar off the nail. It was an awful year in Minnesota and across the country for job losses, home values and pretty much every other economic indicator.

Chandler and other Minnesotans hope for a better 2010 but they’re wary of national problems that will hobble a recovery here.

We asked Chandler and other citizens in MPR’s Public Insight Network to write us a headline that described their 2009 economy and their outlook for 2010. Click on the map icons to see some of the responses, then add your 2010 forecast here.

“Over the summer I had a lot of unexpected class cancellations, as well as lost some teaching hours during the school year,” says Chandler.

“I expect things to be improving on a personal basis because I am enrolled in some continuing education that should enable me to improve my earnings next year. If things should get worse nationally, I would not be able to improve things personally either.”

Bill Jones, a St. Paul information technology manager, describes his 2009 economy as “damaged but not destroyed,” and he’s upbeat about a continued upward trend. “The financial and housing markets are recovering, returning some personal wealth lost in 2009.”

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We’ll get some better signs this week of where the 2010 economy’s headed. Retail sales numbers for December — a crucial month — will be released on Thursday.

“There’s not a big expectation that retail sales will be particularly strong,” but there are signs of an improving economy, Chris Farrell, MPR’s chief economics correspondent, said Monday on MPR’s Morning Edition.

“We’re still weighed down by the job market nationally and locally, and and continued concern about the residential real estate market,” which seems to be stabilizing but is not doing much beyond that, he added.

For now, many Minnesotans are still dealing with a mix of 2009 pain and 2010 hope.

“I worked through what they say is the worst of the economic downturn/great recession. So I am new to unemployment, says JP Rennquist of Duluth, who told us of losing his human services job. Still, “I have many skills and a lot of optimism and a huge network of contacts that I am working.”

Two micro-businesses he owns bring in a small amount of income. “Couple that with the duplex that I live in so I can rent out part of the house and cover about 1/3 of my house payment. I’m still about 60 days behind on that, but I know that things are better for me than many.

“Multiple streams of income seem to be key in Duluth,” he adds, “and probably many places in the state if you want to survive boom/bust cycles.”

BONUS INFO: Click on the play button to listen to MPR’s Chris Farrell on what’s ahead for the Minnesota and national economies.

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