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The Economic Canary

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
That giant screeching sound you started to hear this week was the American and worldwide economies putting on its brakes.

We've been using the "R" word for months, is this technically a recession yet?

Well the recession is about to get really real. Unemployment is creeping up; sales and consumer confidence are dropping like a stone.

All kinds of major companies are scaling back, cutting thousands of jobs in hopes of being able to weather the economic storm.

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Perhaps the most visible canary in your local economic coal mine is the car dealership. They are closing in record numbers.

I drove past a gleaming Ford dealer the other day that told the story. Gone were the cars, the people, and every piece of equipment inside.

How many jobs is that? How much local tax revenue?

This is to say nothing of the confidence of the commercial neighborhood, or even the health of the local economy.

Tough times? I'm afraid the worst is yet to come.

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