From the APP:
In business for 25 years, Mary Burnetsky, the owner of Farley’s Ice Cream in Jackson, had seen enough economic cycles to believe that her industry might have been recession-proof.
hen came 2009. Her customers, hit by rising job losses, eliminated everything they didn’t need, including — gasp! — ice cream.
“Our business is way down this year,” Burnetsky said last week. “Why, I have no idea. I can only assume people can’t afford to buy ice cream as a luxury.”
The year 2009 ends this week, and few people are shedding a tear. The year will be remembered as the time when workers lost their jobs, homeowners fought to avoid foreclosure and consumers saw their credit-card interest rates rise.
It was part of the fallout of the longest recession since the Great Depression, and it left no one unscathed.
The state from January to November lost 88,900 jobs, and its unemployment rate rose from 7.3 percent to 9.7 percent. When the unemployment rate reached 9.8 percent in September, it marked the highest jobless rate since 1977, according to the state.
Behind the job losses was an economy trying to recover from the housing market’s collapse. The federal government tried to stabilize the industry to mixed results.
The government bought mortgage-backed securities and drove down mortgage rates to historic lows of less than 5 percent. And it offered buyers thousands of dollars in tax breaks to jump-start sales.
The government made less progress convincing lenders to modify the mortgages of homeowners who could no longer afford their payments.
The net result? The median price of an existing home in the region that includes the Shore was $343,800 during the third quarter, down 8.9 percent from $377,300 in the same quarter a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors.
“It was really a year of stabilization and setting a stage for what should be recovery in 2010,” Jeffrey Otteau, an East Brunswick-based real estate analyst.