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Whose Recovery Is This?

If a genie were to pop out of a bottle and offer to grant three (reasonable) wishes, you might ask him for a good job, or a promotion. You might gently inquire if he could end the freefall in your home's value.

Here’s another option: Just ask him to turn you into an over-55 female health care worker in Minneapolis. The latest statistics show that those women are gainfully employed and see lots of career opportunities ahead, and their houses ― get this ― are actually rising in value.

On the other hand, it’s not such a great time to be an under-25 guy working in manufacturing in Vegas. They can only hope they’ve still got jobs, so they can make mortgage payments on houses that just lost 30 percent of their value.

Yes, green shoots are popping up here and there on the economic landscape, but some people are only seeing weeds. It’s been a patchy comeback, creating jobs in some regions and certain sectors while continuing to punish others. This recession was so deep, says Tom Runiewicz, an economist at forecasting firm IHS Global Insight, that “it will be a long road back to where we were a few years ago.”

Here’s a look at some of the recovery’s big winners and losers.

Winner Loser What's Going On?
Wall Street Main Street Average expected 2009 compensation at the top banks and securities firms: up 20% to $143,400; for middle-class Americans: down 5% to $50,300.
Discount Retailers Department Stores Wal-Mart’s sales in its latest fiscal year were up 7.2% to $401 billion; Neiman-Marcus’s were down 21% to $3.6 billion.
Bismarck, N.D. Detroit The diversified economy of Bismarck has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 2.9%; unemployment is 17.3% percent and climbing in the Motor City.
Health Care Manufacturing Health care jobs added since the recession’s start: 559,000; manufacturing jobs lost over the same period: 2.1 million.
Big Banks Small Banks Goldman Sachs reported a near-record quarterly profit of $3.2 billion; meanwhile, 115 mostly small banks have failed this year, and the number is growing.
Adult Toys Charitable Donations Sales of sex toys are up roughly 10% this year, while charitable donations to the largest nonprofits are expected to drop 9% for 2009.
Women Men The unemployment rate for men stands at 10.3% versus 7.8% for women; more jobs are being lost in male-dominated industries, while they are being created in female-dominated ones.
Wind Power Oil Consumption Wind power generating capacity in the U.S. surged 16% in the first half of 2009, while global demand for oil is expected to decline 2% in 2009.
Older Workers Younger Workers The unemployment rate for those 55 and over is 7%; the rate for 16-24 year olds is 18.1%.
Minneapolis Las Vegas Real estate prices in Minneapolis rose 3.2% in August and year over year are down 13.7%; prices in Las Vegas slid 0.3% and were down almost 30% year over year.
Britney Spears Nicolas Cage The Princess of Pop is on track to earn $30 million plus and she’s reportedly whipped her budget into shape; Cage owes more than $6 million in back taxes, bombed with Bangkok Dangerous, and has been forced to dump real estate holdings.

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