Four states (Oklahoma, South Dakota, Iowa and Michigan) saw their unemployment rates decline slightly. And, unemployment levels were unchanged in California, Idaho, and Minnesota. So much for the good news.
Louisiana and Mississippi saw their unemployment rates climb by nearly 1 percent in December. And in New York, another 36,000 folks found themselves out of a job. Ouch.
Worse, all 50 states had an unemployment rate that was higher than December 2008. Michigan still had the highest official unemployment rate, 14.6 percent.
And don't get me started on the U-6, which is the broader measure of unemployment. Nationally, the U-6 is measure unemployment at 17.3 percent, though true unemployment could actually be as high as 21 percent. And in some parts of the country, well over 20 percent of the population is unemployed, underemployed, or has just given up.
I spent most of this week in Atlanta, where I spent time talking to Realtors and mortgage lenders about the state of the economy and how they can build their business for 2010 in less-than-favorable circumstances. What's hot? Short sales and foreclosures.
But mortgage lenders are talking about how some folks who have money are coming to the closing table with tens of thousands of dollars in cash just to save their credit score from a 150-point foreclosure hit.
Mostly, though, folks who are unemployed for long periods of time have run out of money. They're just walking away from their homes and the life they created.
On last Sunday's Ilyce Glink radio show, I spoke with a woman who has been out of work for months, has had health issues (and high health care costs that she paid for with a credit card), and whose house is tens of thousands of dollars underwater. She wanted to know what else she could do to save her house.
She started sobbing as I told her that I didn't have any magic pills she could take to make everything okay. I told her that the four walls, ceiling and floor of her house was just that - pieces of a house. Her home is everything she takes with her after she walks away and starts a new life.
No job. No money. No end to the housing crisis in sight.
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- Underwater? Maybe You Should Walk Away From Your Mortgage
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