Friday, March 06, 2009

Desperate Times

Today I read some alarming facts and figures about the Florida County in which I currently reside.

First is the unemployment rate. On December 31st it was at 10.9%. On February 28th it was 12.6%. The available County work force is less than 65 thousand (30% of the County’s residents are age 65 or older and retired). In addition twenty three percent of the people that are employed work out of County.

The County’s largest employer is Wal-Mart (2 Super Wal-Mart stores, a distribution center and a Sam’s Club). Wal-Mart recently laid off many of its part-time employees and cut hours of some full-time employees during the last two months. Our newest National Retailer, Kohl’s, has already cut back on its staff.

I’m not really sure, but I don’t think that the Unemployment figures included people that are unemployed and not collecting unemployment compensation. If so, this would increase the unemployment percentage as stated above.

Second is the housing market. Back in 2004/2005 there was a housing boom in this County. It drove up the prices of the existing homes. This wasn’t unique to the County, it was happening throughout the US.

Many of the new (construction) homes still lie vacant and they no longer have sales agents on duty in the model homes, just a number to call for a showing. I doubt that the phone rings very often.

In our zip code (probably the largest residential zip code in the County) there are 490 single family homes listed on Realtor.com, of these 450 are Bank owned. In addition realtytrac.com lists 1137 in pre-foreclosure and another 240 as Sheriff Sales (unpaid property taxes). I would guessitmate that this is more than 40% (if not 50%) of the single family dwellings in this zip code.

Third is the small business crisis. Last year (2008), 47 small businesses closed in our County. Some were franchises. In addition, some businesses, with multiple locations, have consolidated. The shopping centers have many “For Lease” signs in the vacant storefronts. The place where I got my Chicago Hot Dogs and Italian Beef Sandwiches has been closed for 8 months. When your sales do not cover the cost of your rent and utilities; you close (I wish they would have warned me – I would have bought their Vienna Franks supply).

And finally a not so shocking statistic, but nonetheless alarming. In 2008, County applications for concealed weapons permits had increase by 28% over the last year. In December alone, it was a 21% increase over the previous December. I haven’t seen the figures or the first two months of 2009 yet, but I’m sure that the numbers are escalating. It’s a Fear Factor, when people are desperate they will do desperate things. One has to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

The Beach Bum

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7 Comments:

Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

I stopped going to the malls because of the beggars. They aren't rum addled bums, but older men that have been downsized before they could collect a pension, or retired only to find their boss pocketed their pension. I guess now I will see a lot of 401k beggars.

Fri Mar 06, 02:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George:
Maybe it's time to relocate?
Think about this.
New Hampshire,two friends John & I. (only if your buying)
Mass. No friends,No Vienna franks, But you can have Barney Franks.(he doesn't leave his buddies behind)No one is buying...
Windy City, Plenty of friends and relatives, and you know they arn't buying.
Then again the Sunshine State isn't so bad. Most of us Yankee's or Yankers would love a invitation to spend some quality time we you away from the chilly north.
Again: (ONLY IF YOUR BUYING)

Buck

Sun Mar 08, 08:22:00 AM  
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