TALKING HEADS FROM THE FED VISIT ROCKLAND

Experts say housing market, jobs slowly have returned to pre-Great Recession numbers

BY KATHY KAHN

Joseph Tracy and Jason Bram, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
Joseph Tracy and Jason Bram, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Two members of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York visited Rockland last week and told an audience that a slow but steady turnaround has occurred in the US economy since the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent recession.

Hosted by the Palisades Institute and Rockland Business Association at Dominican College on January 13, Joseph Tracy, executive vice president and Jason Bram, regional research officer and analyst, presented a strengthening position on both the national and regional economy since The Great Recession brought the country to its knees.

The good news is the economy is getting stronger, nearly reaching the pace it held before Wall Street took the country down the tubes. “There is growing confidence that the economy is moving in the right direction after the sharp decline we experienced when the Great Recession hit,” said Tracy.

From 2008 through the end of 2016, the road to financial stability has been a rocky ride, although the close of 2016 saw overall employment rates rise for both lower- and middle-income workers and the stock market showing a more robust return than many had not seen in several years.

“When the unemployment rate started coming down by 2015, workers became more confident and willing to seek out new jobs,” said Tracy. “The labor market is nearly back to normal, something Congress wanted to get done, and we’ve accomplished that.”

Real income is rising approximately three percent, but the Federal Reserve expects to see a slower net addition of the labor market’s growth in the upcoming year. Wages have grown two percent and are up almost another percentage point as the U.S. recovers from the worst slump since the Great Depression.

Home prices are nearly what they were in pre-Recession days. Despite a strong recovery, however, lenders are reticent in giving home equity lines of credit, but it doesn’t appear to be on the average American’s radar.  Tracy noted neither homeowners nor renters appear to feel compelled to spend as they once did.   One sector that has been robust in its lending is the automobile industry, where many guarantee a car whether there’s “bad credit” or “no credit at all.”

Jason Bram noted New York City has bounced back from the Recession, its boom resonating, albeit slowly, to counties surrounding it. NYC has seen a seven percent increase in private sector jobs. It took the city less time to get back on track, with the exception of Brooklyn, while Rockland, Westchester and Fairfield County, CT are still in somewhat of a slump.