What’s Up? Also, What’s Down

  • Share
  • Read Later

The economy has had its ups and downs—OK, mostly downs of late. Here, some statistics showing the economic fallout on all sorts of things, including cheap booze sales (they’re up), military recruits with college degrees (also up), and excuses for getting out of jury duty (way up).
UP: Sales of cheap liquor. The fastest-growing segment of the liquor industry has been cheap brands of booze like Popov vodka.

DOWN: Public services. Colorado Springs, Colorado, has taken some of the most drastic cost-cutting strategies to trim its municipal budget, turning off one-third of its streetlights, removing trash cans from parks, eliminating bus service on evenings and weekends, closing museums and pools, and allowing park lawns to go brown because they won’t be watered. The city plans on spending $3.1 million on parks in 2010, down from $19.6 million in 2007.

UP: Number of Utah students leaving high school early. Potentially anyway. The state, which has previously been a money-saving trendsetter via a four-day work week, is now exploring the possibility of eliminating 12th grade—or at least making it optional. Proponents say the move could save $60 million.

DOWN: Number of truckers moving goods around the country. A “trucker index,” which tracks how often truckers fill up their rigs at gas stations, shows that the amount of goods being moved across the nation’s highways—a broad indication of how the economy is faring—fell significantly in January after an above-average December.

UP: Domestic violence. Economic stress tends to bring about a rise in domestic violence. Three-quarters of the 600 domestic violence shelters surveyed last year reported an increase in the number of women seeking assistance.

DOWN: Number of Americans expected to walk on the moon anytime soon. With budget cuts at NASA, plans to send more astronauts to the moon have been canceled.

UP: Military recruits with college degrees. With few jobs out there for recent (and not-so recent) college grads, the number of recruits with bachelor’s degrees jumped by 17% in 2009.

DOWN: Financial aid for college students. Colleges are dropping their once-generous financial aid packages, which allowed students to attend school without taking out loans. At the same time, tuition costs are rising by 4% to 6%.

UP: Health care lobby money. Drug companies, pharmacists, doctors’ groups and other special-interest health care groups increased the amount of cash they doled out to politicians up to $11.7 million last year, up 14% from 2007. Also up, by as much as 39%: Health insurance premiums of California residents who buy individual policies.

DOWN: Number of elderly moving into retirement homes. Their nest eggs have been depleted, their homes cannot be sold at reasonable asking prices, many seniors can’t afford to move to retirement homes. According to one survey, 74% of seniors who are interested in retirement homes are postponing such a move because of the economy.

UP: Excuses for not being able to sit for jury duty. Courts are reporting an increase in the number of potential jurors who are desperately trying to get out of jury duty because taking a few days off from work would cause too much of a financial strain. A judge in one courtroom summarily dismissed 66 of the 107 prospective jurors due to their financial difficulties.

DOWN: The nation’s illegal immigrant population. The number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. dropped by about one million in 2009—the sharpest decrease in 30 years. Why? Jobs disappeared.

UP: Number of foreclosures expected in 2010. Around the country, 4 million homeowners are at least 90 days behind on their mortgage payments—and 2.4 million foreclosures are expected by year’s end.
As more and more foreclosed properties hit the market for resale, prices for all home sales will go down because of glut of too much supply and not enough demand. The result could be even more underwater homeowners, many of whom may just walk away.

DOWN: Likelihood that a temp job will turn into full-time employment. A temp gig used to be a foot in the door to something full-time. Not so much anymore. Employers now seem happier with part-time workers who don’t get benefits—“disposable workers,” as they’ve been called. In January, for instance, employers added 52,000 temp jobs at the same time the total number of jobs in the U.S. fell by 106,000.

Read more:
Ten Odd Economic Indicators: Hot Waitresses, Men’s Underwear, Blacked-Out Football Games, and More