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Mounting debt amid Tennessee's economic recovery

'The times, they are a changin',' says a line from the classic Bob Dylan song. How fast they change and in what direction is still a matter of conjecture. Recent media reports advise that the country is in the process of an economic recovery that began late in 2012. It seems, however, that the process has slowed in Tennessee. Those who are awaiting an upward swing in the Tennessee economy are hopeful, but still have to deal with the mounting debt caused by stalled hiring and now by labor cuts required by the government's sequestration policy.

The state's unemployment figures confirm what many Tennessee residents already know: finding and keeping a job is a difficult task these days. The unemployment rate for Tennessee has risen for the third month in a row. Some 6,600 non-farm jobs were lost in March, contributing to an overall unemployment rate of 7.9 percent. This figure is just .1 percent below the figures for March 2012. Recovery may be on the horizon, but does not appear to be hurrying along too quickly.

The generally positive economic forecast nationally has not relieved the financial crisis that many middle and lower-middle class families are experiencing in our state. Many people who are currently unemployed or who have just recently found jobs are still experiencing severe financial losses and face bills that they cannot pay due to hiring freezes and job cutbacks. While economic recovery may be on its way, many people still need help to deal with the aftermath of the recession. Large companies have had assistance in creating a financial fresh start, and consumers should have help with that also.

Some areas in Tennessee are faring a little better; Nashville reports slightly lower unemployment and slightly higher sales tax collection figures. Mounting debt from long term downward trends in the state economy, however, has left many people looking for a way to recover in their personal economic lives. When times get difficult, the natural tendency is to protect those things most necessary and put off other debts until things get better. Unfortunately for many, better may be arriving just a little too late.

Source: The Tennessean, "TN economic recovery slows, but Nashville outperforming state," Duane Marsteller, May 2, 2013

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