These indicators all point down

January 30, 2002|By Nancy Brenner

NEW YORK - Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan has his indicators. I have my own.

How many people I know are out of work. How many people I know who are employed, but are looking for a job - just in case.

How many people I know who have already been dropped from unemployment benefits but who are still unemployed and don't appear on any agency's records.

How many stray resumes are turning up unsolicited from friends of friends and colleagues from previous lives.

How many people with 20 years of experience are applying for positions requiring significantly less.

How many people I know who work at companies that have suffered layoffs. How many people I know who took advantage of voluntary layoffs.

How many times the word "layoffs" appears in an Internet word search. How many empty storefronts I see on Park and Madison avenues and smaller streets around the city.

How many cabs race forward each time I try to hail one - unless there's a downpour.

How many people I see each morning curled up on the sidewalks underneath cardboard makeshift sleeping tents.

How the Entenmann's shelves of the supermarket are constantly bare as people turn to sweets for solace.

So while the Fed chairman is examining news from retail sales reports, manufacturing reports, home sales and other standard means of gauging the shape of the economy, I'm compiling my own index. My indicators tell me that no one has been untouched by this downturn in some fashion, and that it is far from over.

Nancy Brenner works for a public relations company in New York City, where she lives.

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