Recovery summer’s ugly underbelly

Read what Bloomberg has to say about Nevada’s 14.3 percent unemployment rate.

Recovery summer, a pipe dream that is turning into a pipe bomb, could mean a fall from Olympian heights for Democrats thanks to an economy in shambles. And nowhere in the nation is that shambles so obvious as in Nevada.

Stewardship of the economy, plus fallout both nationally and in the Silver State, brings to mind the wit and wisdom of Lawrence “Yogi” Berra, baseball’s bard of zen-like quips. “You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, ’cause you might not get there,” he said once.

A corollary came in 1972 as the catcher/quipster drove his family to Cooperstown, N.Y., site of baseball’s Hall of Fame, and he was ribbed by family members because he wandered off track. Berra told them: “We’re lost, but we’re making good time.”

Either of the quotes above could just as well be used for commentary on events today.

Turmoil and fallout from President Barack Obama’s and his congressional cohorts’ failed fixes of the previous administration’s economic swoon are seen most starkly right here in Nevada.

Joblessness, as measured by August’s report from the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation, hit a record 14.3 percent. But that wasn’t the whole story.

The report, which covered July, indicated Nevada’s actual unemployment rate through the second quarter of 2010 was 21.5 percent when people underemployed or who had given up seeking work were factored into the equation. In other words, more than a fifth of the state’s workforce is idle or under-utilized.

Each affected Nevadan is squeezed financially, while society gets cheated out of benefits from their collective skills and squeezed by loss of tax revenues unrealized via this squandered potential. Nor does that tell the whole Silver State horror story. Nevada also leads the nation in foreclosures and bankruptcies.

Though our state obviously is the nation’s basket case, things also are ugly elsewhere. The national jobless rate of 9.5 percent is well over the 8 percent top target the administration touted to sell stimulus spending. And, as in Nevada, the actual unemployment/underemployment impact is much worse.

Late in August, national housing data slumped again. The National Association of Realtors reported that July existing home sales plummeted 27 percent, compared with June, to the slowest pace since 1995. The Commerce Department said new home sales, comparing the same months, fell 12.4 percent and hit the slowest pace since the 1960s.

RealtyTrac in August said July bank repossessions of houses hit the second highest monthly level since the firm started tracking such data. The combined data from the government, Realtors and RealtyTrac translates into greater numbers of homes on the market, which raised concern about additional price declines.

A battered economy means political observers wonder how Democrats—led by President Obama, along with Nevada Sen. Harry Reid and California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi—will fare when voters speak this fall in the general election.

Off-year congressional elections generally go against a sitting administration in a president’s first term, at least lowering his party’s majority in the House when Congress and the administration share the same political label.

But this year observers wonder if voters will take a bigger step, jettisoning sufficient Democrats so a Republican majority takes the House. No one knows the future; however, another Yogism provides food for thought regarding both the economy and politics.

Berra, perhaps gazing into a baseball that had crystallized, audaciously observed, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”