While millions of struggling Americans still working hard to find meaningful employment might disagree, economists are heartened about prospects for growth this year as industries increasingly report better profits and add new jobs, though they still expect the recovery to remain slow, a new survey shows.
As The Huffington Post reported this week, 70% of those recently surveyed by The National Association for Business Economics believe real Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—the measure of our country’s overall economic output— will “grow by more than two percent this year, up from 61 percent who said the same in January. Twenty-four percent are predicting real GDP will grow by more than 3 percent in 2010, up from 14 percent earlier this year. ‘Industry demand moved higher compared to results in the January 2010 report, pointing to stronger growth in 2010,’ said William Strauss, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. ‘After more than two years of job losses, job creation increased in the first quarter of 2010, suggesting a better outlook for hiring over the next six months.’ The NABE forecast…shows fewer jobs are being shed, more are being created and more companies are making money.”
Similarly, HuffPost said that recent growth is said to be at its fastest pace in 10 months. “American employers March added 162,000 jobs, the most in three years. Wages and salaries also are improving. Respondents reporting higher pay more than doubled to 26 percent, while those reporting a decline in wages slipped to 6 percent from 7 percent in January. The net reading for wages and salaries – planned increases minus planned cuts – was 20, the highest reading since January 2008. Higher salaries would bode well for the recovery, since consumer spending accounts for as much as 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.”
More jobs and higher wages were met by rise in bankruptcy rates last month. In fact, March 2010 marked the highest amount of personal and commercial bankruptcies since 2005. According to data compiled by the Automated Access to Court Electronic Records, there were 158,141 bankruptcies petitions filed this past month—an increase of 20 percent from March 2009.
Thus far, these figures represent the highest number of reported Chapter 7 bankruptcies since 2005, when new laws, including the “means test,” caused a dramatic reduction in bankruptcy cases.
With jobs and wages rebounding in 2010, the record filings are being attributed to the lingering housing crisis, responsible for millions of underwater mortgages, in which the homeowner owes more than the home is now worth. As has been well reported, many are simply allowing banks to foreclose on their houses and filing Chapter 7 in the process, considered the quickest and most common of all bankruptcy, especially for allowing one to “walk away,” from looming debt. Many are using recent tax returns to sweeten the deal, paying experienced attorneys to help them begin on a path to more a healthy financial future.
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