Every month there’s much hand-wringing among economists and analysts about whether or not the end of the recession is in sight. (How many hybrids were sold in April; did durable goods drop off in May?) As the recession drags through its second summer, the strength of the recovery will be weighed in car rentals, hotel reservations, restaurant visits, and amusement park admissions.
For what it’s worth, the economy is sending mixed signals. The country is still losing jobs and the national unemployment rate hovered just under 10 percent in May, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor. And while consumer spending hasn’t fully rebounded yet, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has been quoted as saying that Americans are spending more than they were a year ago.
“I’ll see a lot of my former customers walking or taking the bus.” – James Paul, taxi driver
“You know, we never took a lot of vacations ’cause we have dogs, and so my husband was always like, ‘How are we going to go away and leave these big dogs? We can’t just leave the dogs!’ This year, though, Unico [a national Italian American civic association with a chapter in Secaucus] is taking a trip and I’ll be going on that trip. I’ll be taking the trip; my husband is going to stay here with the dogs. But I am taking the money for the trip out of my savings. I’m using a credit card to pay for the trip. In case there any problems, I’ll have the protections offered by the credit card company. But as the bill comes due the money to pay off the credit card is coming from my savings, whereas in the past I just would have had the money available without having to dip into my savings.” – Debbie Santoro
“We’re still going away on vacation this year. But to save a little money, we’ll be staying with family for a few days. That way we won’t be spending all our time in a hotel. We’ll still stay in a hotel for a couple days to have some time to ourselves, but not as much as we would have done in the past. We’ll also be away for fewer days than we might have taken before.” – Rosalie Pastore
“The recession hasn’t affected my vacation plans. I’m not taking a vacation. I haven’t been on a vacation in four or five years. But it has nothing to do with the economy. I wasn’t planning to take a vacation this year anyway, so I can’t say it’s ’cause of the recession.” – Anthony Napierski
“Nah, I won’t be taking a vacation. I drive a cab in Secaucus. I haven’t been away in two years because of the economy. I used to go away every year, three times a year. I used to go to Las Vegas. I actually own a restaurant there. And I used to go to the racetrack every Saturday night. That was my relaxation. But my cab business here in Secaucus is down about 30 to 50 percent and I make 30 to 40 percent less a day than I made two years ago. The economy is down. A lot of people have been laid off and they’re cutting back. If people aren’t working, they aren’t taking cabs. I’ll see a lot of my former customers walking or taking the bus. The economy has really affected me.” – James Paul, better known in Secaucus as “Jimmy the Greek”
“I haven’t even planned our vacation, and that’s unusual. I haven’t even made a decision where we’re going yet. And usually by this time, it would be set where we’re going, the week we’re going, and everything. This year, the summer is already here and we haven’t decided anything yet. We’ll probably still go somewhere, but we may go somewhere closer to home or take a couple days instead of going away the whole week.” – Sharon Conti (not pictured)
E-mail E. Assata Wright at email@example.com.