At a time when the nation could use some good news about the economy, a real estate tracking firm reports a staggering new round of glum statistics about home losses in the United States. During the first half of this year, a record number of properties – 1.53 million – were in foreclosure or about to be foreclosed, RealtyTrac reported this morning. Alarmingly, that is nearly 10 percent more than the previous six months and about 15 percent more than during the same period last year. “What this means is, despite the intensity of the efforts on the part of government and lenders we don’t have a handle on foreclosures yet,” Rick Sharga, a spokesman for RealtyTrac, told CNNMoney.com. Perhaps the worst thing about the findings that that there were 1.91 million foreclosure filings – which equals about one of every 84 U.S. properties – is what it portends for the likelihood of an imminent housing recovery. There was no recorded improvement for June, the last month of the cycle. “More than 336,000 homes reported foreclosure filings, the fourth straight 300,000-plus month, CNNMoney.com reports, noting that filings were up 33 percent over last June and nearly 5 percent compared with May. “Foreclosure activity continues to increase to record levels,” James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a statement. “Unemployment-related foreclosures account for much of this increased activity, and the high number of borrowers who find themselves owing more on their mortgages than their homes’ are now worth represent a potentially significant future risk.” The raging recession is apparently the most powerful dynamo behind the housing problems. As more and more workers lose their jobs, the number of borrowers who are unable to make their payments grows. And, as home prices continue to tumble, an increasing number of homeowners owe more than their homes are worth, which in turn discourages some borrowers from repaying their loans.
Archive for "recession"
For the first time since 1992, South Africa, the African continent’s largest economy, has slipped into a recession. The country’s gross domestic product fell 6.4 percent, its largest fall since 184. While the nation has seen a boost in construction due to next year’s World Cup ceremonies, the manufacturing and mining industries (which make up sizeable chunks of the African nation’s economy as a whole) have slowed down, the BBC reports. “It’s far worse than we expected,” an economist told the news service. “It confirms the recession in the economy and certainly increases concerns about overall growth for 2009, given such a bad start for the year.” In response, the Reserve Bank of South Africa will cut interest rates by one percent.
With the economic crisis kicking America’s butt for 15 straight months, it’s Black folks with four-year college degrees who’re feeling the most pain. While there were relatively few college-educated Whites without jobs – about 3.8 percent, according to national employment figures for March 2009 – there were nearly twice as many jobless Black degree-holders (7.2 percent). That is a 4.5 percent higher than a year earlier, when the recession officially began. Job-holding Latinos and Asian Americans with bachelor’s degrees (both at 5 percent) fared worse than Whites but better than Blacks. The findings suggest that while education is viewed as an avenue to decent job, particularly for African Americans, it cannot be viewed as a surefire means to employment. In fact, at every level of education, Blacks are far more likely to be without a job than their White counterparts and, according to labor experts, even if Blacks earned the same number of degrees as Whites they would still have significantly higher unemployment. This reality, they say, begs for a higher commitment to anti-discrimination efforts in employment and job creation in the Black community.
Recessions are bad for the health, and a new study shows that the nation’s current economic woes are downright sickening. Since the recession began some 4 million Americans have lost their health insurance, and as many as 14,000 people could be losing their health coverage every day, according to a report by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. What’s worse, the report also indicates that at least half of those who lost their insurance coverage still are uninsured. Before the recession started there were an estimated 46 million Americans without health insurance. The report uses estimates from Urban Institute researchers that a one percentage point rise in the national unemployment rate causes 2.4 million people to lose employer-sponsored health coverage. Of those people, 1 million rely on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program and 1.1 million end up uninsured. Since data was last collected in the spring of 2007, the unemployment rate has grown from 4.4 percent to 7.6 percent, and as a result, an estimated 3.5 million people have lost their health insurance and are now uninsured.
In case you’re wondering, it is officially a recession. Yes, Martha, it is really a recession. That’s the official word from the National Bureau of Economic Research, which on Monday said the American economy has been in a downward spiral since December 2007. The bureau is a private group of top economists charged with dating the start and end of economic downturns. One sign of the downturn is that employers axed payrolls by 1.2 million jobs in the first 10 months of this year, reports CNN. On Friday, economists predict the government will report a loss of another 325,000 jobs for November, according to CNN. The current recession is one of the longest downturns since the Great Depression of the 1930s.The last two recessions (1990-1991 and 2001) lasted eight months each, and only two of the 10 previous post-Depression downturns lasted as long as a full year, according to the bureau.