The end of year usually brings with it whimsical feelings of goodwill as the holidays draw near. 2008 is not that kind of year. At the end of November, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) confirmed what most residents in the District of Columbia have been feeling for many months: the United States economy has been in a recession for a year.
The report stated that economic activity peaked December 2007 and has been on the decline since, ending a 73-month period of economic expansion that began November 2001, according to the Cambridge, Mass.-based committee of economists, which is responsible for dating the start and finish of economic downturns. The usual indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product.
NBER, however, defines a recession as a “significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in production, employment, real income, and other indicators.” The US economy lost 240,000 jobs in October, as the unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent. The Department of Labor reported that more than 500,000 jobs were lost in November, a 34-year high. The economy has been shedding jobs since January, while declines in manufacturing, retail sales and industrial production “met the standard for a recession,” the committee said in a statement.
DISB, in turn, has been feeling the pinch of the economy as the agency has received more complaints from consumers who have become victims of home foreclosures, financial fraud, insurance claim denials or cancellations, deliberately bad investment advice, and other actions that may be directly linked to the city’s poor economic conditions. DISB has had to offer more financial literacy events, attend more consumer empowerment events and ensure more visibility through the city’s many media outlets, including the Web. The agency has been on the frontlines, providing information and assistance, as it has increased the work of its consumer protection advocate and those administering consumer services, a sure sign of the times. And for 2009, DISB will continue to monitor the situation, working closely with the Council, other government agencies and nonprofits to continue providing assistance to those who need it.
For this month’s newsletters, even though the main focus has been on November’s Health Insurance Awareness Month, read more about claiming and keeping the money you’ve earned during tax time, AARP’s suspension of sales for some of its health plans, the Hope for Homeowners program that helps families keep their homes, how to buy affordable health insurance, and ensuring that your insurance policy has you covered during the holidays, and a whole lot more.
As always, we hope you will find something in our newsletter pages that keeps you coming back for more. Happy Holidays. We wish you a financially aware New Year.
Office of Communications