More on the Great Recession: Foreclosures, Jobs & Financial Reform

I’m one of those lucky people who is still employed and just bought a condo, taking advantage of the up to $8,000 tax credit that was part of the stimulus legislation crafted by the Obama Administration and Congress earlier this year.

So, I’ve just been through a move from my old apartment — of fifteen years — where most of the residents are college students, with perhaps a few little old ladies here and there, as well as a sprinkling of grisly hermits like myself who have always been content to avoid the responsibilities of home ownership.

But anyway, as I was moving I took notice of something unusual at my apartment complex — the appearance of a family of four in one of the units across the street.  I don’t think I’d seen that once in all my fifteen years at the apartments.

I never spoke with them in order to ascertain whether they were victims of the foreclosure crisis, but when I saw a pile of toys in the yard behind their unit, I thought they sure looked like they belonged in the backyard of a single family home.

Though I suppose people aren’t losing their homes around here at the same pace they are elsewhere — such as Florida or out west — I’d be willing to bet this scenario is something being repeated quite a lot around Greensboro these days.  In fact, just since I’ve moved into my condo (less than a month), I’ve seen a unit foreclosed.               

If you’re in trouble, Greensboro Public Library has some books which can help you with foreclosure, including The Foreclosure Survival Guide:  Keep Your House or Walk Away with Money in Your Pocket by Stephen Elias, and Stop Foreclosure Now:  The Complete Guide to Saving Your Home and Your Credit by Lloyd Segal.

Of course, some families aren’t so lucky as to be able to afford an apartment when they lose their homes.  This past week, one of my colleagues at another branch sent me a link to a New York Times article on how foreclosures are forcing families into homeless shelters — on average, it’s estimated that 10% of homeless families receiving help from social service agencies are folks who have lost their homes.

In other late economic news, the Employment Security Commission released county unemployment data on Friday, and things are looking a tad better, as Guilford County’s rate for September dropped .4% from the previous month to 11.0%.

We’re still in a world of hurt on the jobs front though, for this article by MSNBC’s John Schoen suggests the “real” unemployment rate nationally — when you throw in discouraged workers and part-timers who want full-time jobs — may actually be as high as 20%, or around double the official rate (currently 9.8%). 

If we extrapolate Guilford’s “real” rate in the same way, then we also would be at around 20%.

As we’ve said many times in our posts, the Library has plenty of resources for job seekers.  Check out our Job and Career Information page. 

We’ve also seen reports of some movement on financial reform in the last week or so, though it seems unlikely that Congress will have the stomach for bold action

One of the most troubling areas continues to be “too big to fail” — i.e., the likelihood of government bailouts for huge financial institutions like AIG or Citigroup in the event of future crises.  

On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress it “must set up a mechanism . . . to safely wind down big financial firms whose failure could endanger the entire financial system,” suggesting an assessment collected from the financial industry — rather than taxpayer dollars — could be used for this purpose.

If you’re interested in some of the Library’s most recent titles on the financial crisis, take a look at the reading list here.

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