Recession over and economy slowly rising

Jinae West

Although experts say the recession officially ended more than a year ago, numbers seem to tell a different story.

Foreclosures in Portage County and throughout the state increased from 2008 to 2009. Ohio was 12th in the nation for foreclosure listings during the month of August and up 18.6 percent compared to figures from last year, according to foreclosures database RealtyTrac.

County Auditor Janet Esposito said she expects the foreclosure rate to closely match last year’s and doesn’t believe those numbers will drop significantly through 2011.

“I see the economy as bad as it is now,” she said.

In 2008, Portage County had 873 foreclosure listings. The total increased to 935 the following year. As of Sept. 7, the number of filings for 2010 is 718.

The National Bureau of Economic Research announced last week the recession officially ended in June 2009, despite recent findings that a record percentage of Americans are living below the poverty line.

Assistant Economics Professor Curtis Reynolds said the discrepancy comes from the measure of a recession, which is based on the nation’s total economic output, or the amount of goods and services produced.

“The NBER’s research is in charge of deciding when the business cycle begins and ends, and the data they were looking at, they saw that basically economic activity was growing up at that point,” Reynolds said. “Now, that doesn’t mean that everything about the economy is good. It just means that it has stopped going downhill.”

In a statement published on its website, the NBER acknowledged the economy has not returned to its prerecession levels since the downturn began in December 2007.

“The trough marks the end of the declining phase and the start of the rising phase of the business cycle,” the organization stated. “Economic activity is typically below normal in the early stages of an expansion, and it sometimes remains so well into the expansion.”

As for the housing market, Curtis said unemployment contributes to increased foreclosures. He said people are primarily in trouble, however, because home values have fallen so much the debt owed is worth more than the house.

Most experts believe economic growth will slowly continue through the end of this year and into 2011, but Curtis said it may be a while before people notice a difference.

“Think of a recession like going underwater,” Curtis said. “The recession is over once you start rising back to the surface, but that does not mean your head is above water yet.”

To read more on this topic, check out Unemployment rates decreasing as economy makes a comeback, Race to the top and Video: Kent Social Services.

Contact Jinae West at [email protected].