The economic downturn is affecting communities across the country in varied ways. Business reporters give an update on what their regions are experiencing.
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Back in September, as the financial crisis was just beginning to be felt, we talked with four business journalists from around the nation about what they were seeing. Three months later, and a whole lot of economic turmoil later, we've brought them back.
Kathy Kristof is a syndicated personal finance columnist in Los Angeles. Her column appears in the L.A. Times and elsewhere.
Keith Reed was a business reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer when we last talked to him. He's now in Cleveland, still writing about economics, and serving as editor of Catalyst Ohio magazine.
Shirley Leung is business editor for the Boston Globe.
And Doug Smith is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer.
Well, Kathy Kristof, I know things are worse, but in what particular ways is it most being felt where you are?
KATHY KRISTOF, personal finance columnist: The big thing is job losses. We're seeing those pretty much everywhere right now. And where three months ago you still had little signs of light, right now, job losses are hitting virtually every industry. There are cutbacks. People are scaling down. People are spending less. We're just seeing this filter through pretty much every segment of the economy.
Any particular segments that stand out there that are most important?
You know, our big segments are real estate and financial services, and they've just been crushed, absolutely crushed. You know, we're one of the foreclosure capitals of the world, and we don't say that proudly.
So, yes, our real estate and financial services sectors are probably the worst, but, like I said, it's everywhere. It's in small businesses. It's in retailing. It's in trade. Just everywhere you look, it looks really bad.
Keith Reed, we just heard a debate about the auto industry and a potential rescue there. Is that still the biggest single factor where you are?
KEITH REED, Catalyst Ohio Magazine:
Absolutely. It's huge here. As a matter of fact, General Motors made an announcement just yesterday that they were going to lay off about 100 more workers from a plant here just outside Cleveland in Parma, Ohio.
That plant has already seen or has already suffered the announcement of about 1,500 job cuts. That's in addition to both Ford and Chrysler saying that they're going to extend their normal January shutdowns of some of their plants in this area.
The news is not good whatsoever. I have to really echo Kathy's sentiments that things have just — have only gotten worse since the last time we've talked. At least, back in September, there was a little bit of hope, a little glimmer, at least maybe not here in northern Ohio, in southern Ohio, closer to Cincinnati, where they're a little bit more insulated from some of the manufacturing job losses, where the economy is a little bit more diverse, that there was some glimmer of hope.
That has been all but extinguished all over the state of Ohio and throughout the Midwest, especially the Great Lakes region. Anywhere near the auto industry, you're just looking at tremendous job losses. And the news out of Washington today was not enough to save some of those jobs that we've already heard have been cut.