If federal legislators fail to reach an agreement in the first few weeks of January, it very well could lead to layoffs, agrees Lynn Gray, an economist with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
But based on the initial claims for unemployment insurance, Oklahoma by all indications is recovering, Gray said. Last week's claims numbered roughly 356,750 nationwide — down from some 650,000 in early 2009 and about equal to the claims in December 2007, the month before the recession hit.
“Even in the really good times we enjoyed in 2006 and 2007, weekly initial claims never were below 300,000,” Gray said.
Meanwhile, Jeweler Valerie Naifeh said she has no plans to reduce her staff, but does believe economic worries will affect her customers' spending habits.
“We will, most likely, tailor our buying for the next 12 months in a way that reflects our clients' pessimism, rather than our optimism,” Naifeh said.
Jeannie Bowden, an economic development officer in Duncan — where unemployment, for now, remains very low — says “Let's Go!” to the “fiscal cliff.”
“If our elected federal officials can't figure it out, I am glad something is in place to reduce our deficit,” Bowden said. “I don't think it will be easy and I think some, maybe me or my loved ones, will have a difficult time. But I do not wish our nation to ultimately fall, or become much weaker, because we couldn't make the tough decisions.”