Everyone talking economy

Published 12:46 pm Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The results of an Associated Press exit poll sampling Alabama voters are hardly surprising: Alabamians are worried about the economy. Roughly half ranked the issue as their top priority, according to the poll conducted at 20 precincts following last Tuesday’s elections.

National polls paint a similar picture.

Some 93 percent of Americans think the nation’s economy is not so good or poor, according to the United States General Election Exit Poll.

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And 81 percent are worried that the current economic crisis will harm their family’s finances over the next year.

Things have certainly changed since 2004.

Only 18 percent of Americans saw the economy as the nation’s largest problem when electing George W. Bush to his second term. That figure has increased to 63 percent, based on responses to exit polls last week, according to the General Election data.

Hyundai’s announcement to shut down production for 11 days last month officially sounded the alarm — the economic crisis was capable of striking hard on a local level. Top Hyundai suppliers such as Hwashin America Co., are bound to feel the impact.

The first economic bombshell to hit Butler County fell Monday in the form of an announcement by Chapman Forest Products. The fallout was significant.

The local manufacturer, one of the county’s largest employers with local roots as deep as the 1800s, laid off 70 of its 325 employees, according to a company press release.

CEO and Owner Philip J. Smith said the layoffs are tentatively forecasted to last 6-12 months and were necessary to prevent a “permanent shutdown.”

Such announcements are unfortunate — it’s never good to hear someone has lost their job, especially on such a large scale — but may be viewed as the last resort by companies fighting for survival in the face of sharp declines in their respective markets.

As Butler County deals with the heartbreaking announcement by Chapman Forest Products and braces for any future economic setbacks, it’s important to consider several points:

n Fiscal responsibility is key in the face of tough economic times. In practice it can be uncomfortable, but belt-tightening benefits more than just the companies and individuals that take part. Just as business failures and financial setbacks send negative ripples across our local economy, so is it strengthened by increased efficiency and sound business practices.

n Folks in our community that have lost their jobs, or are facing especially tough circumstances need our support. This may come in the form of thoughts and prayers or even more in some cases. Affected children, specifically, should be lifted as we approach the holiday season. There are a host of local organizations and efforts established with this goal in mind. They thrive or dive based on our involvement.

n We’ve faced tough economic times before. We survived, persevered and come back even stronger.

There’s no reason to believe our nation, our community, won’t do so again.