Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yay, the Recession's Over, but Good Luck in the Job Market

Hooray, the recession is officially over. Hooray, our 401(k)s have recovered. As for the unemployed (and we're mainly talking about former business magazine staffers, apparently), not so good.

The economy grew by 3.5 percent in the third quarter (July-September) of 2009, and experts expect it to grow by about 3 percent in 2010. The Q3 boost was higher than economists had predicted, and it was helped aloft by the stimulus spending and incentives, such as the Cash-for-Clunkers car trade-in program. I'd love to learn whether this vindicates government stimulus spending in an economic crisis. I know plenty of people on both sides will argue the case, but I mean I'm interested in people who know what they're talking about and who've really studied the matter giving their verdict. My half-educated assumption is that this is somewhat of a vindication. I just wish there was more than Fox News or MSNBC shouting heads to explore the question. Probably the kind of informed explanation I'm hoping for can only be given with much passage of time.

In the meantime, it's important that 401(k) retirement accounts have recovered to break-even or better since the start of this economic debacle. After all, for people my age (41) and younger, that is our retirement account. Companies don't offer pensions any longer, and Social Security is not likely to be around when we retire. But I hope this past year inspires more people in this age range to start saving more, put more into long-range conservative investments, and stock up on canned food and Ramen noodles.

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