The collapse of the sub-prime mortgage industry. The credit crunch. The recession. Whatever you call it, there's no question that the economy is going through some serious turbulence.
The red-hot housing, banking, and construction industries have cooled off dramatically over the past year. To make matters worse, several of the nation's largest banks went through a series of hasty marriages and divorces. (See the illustration).
Now the economic slump has spread to other industries like travel, leisure, and retail sales. There's just no reason to take vacations or buy big-ticket items when you just got laid off and your company is bankrupt.
A shocking number of major retail chains have chosen to close their underperforming stores, while others are going out of business completely. In fact, so many large companies are in deep trouble that it makes me wonder what kind of thin ice they were on before the housing bubble burst. Let's take a look at the damage so far:
Circuit City: closing 13 stores (link)
K-Mart: closing 2 stores (link)
Linens-N-Things: closing 17 stores
Mervyn's: closing 16 stores (link)
Office Depot: closing 2 stores (link)
Shoe Pavilion: closing 15 stores (64 nationwide) (link)
Whitehall Jewelers: closing 11 stores (373 nationwide) (link)
Of course, nationwide retailers aren't the only ones getting punched in the kidneys. Many businesses that are Arizona-based or have a strong presence here have started to do some serious belt-tightening of their own. Take a look at these examples:
Arizona Republic: 68 people laid off (link)
AutoNation, Inc closes 2 Phoenix dealerships (link)
Bill Heard Enterprises closes 13 dealerships including Scottsdale location (link unavailable)
Chase Bank: 110 people laid off (link)
Freeport McMoRan cuts 800 jobs, forecasts more layoffs (link)
Honeywell: 700 jobs moving overseas in next 3 years (link)
So what do these events mean for Arizonans? How will these layoffs impact Arizona's economy? What's going to happen to all of these poor employees who get laid off? I don't know, but it's probably not going to be a good answer. Each day I hope that the worst is behind us, but I have to say it seems like we have yet to hit the bottom.