For thousands of Arizonans, the end to 2011 couldn’t have come fast enough. Too many people in Arizona were without jobs this past year. Too many families lost their homes to foreclosure. And not enough college graduates saw opportunity present itself after working and investing for four or more years to get a college degree.
Today the calendar turned to 2012 and we all know that simple fact doesn’t change much. But there were trends at the end of 2011 that indicate 2012 will be a better year for the economy. And voters have a chance through the election process to put their weight to bear on those that would be president or congressmen and congresswomen. The November election will likely swing based on the state of the economy in 2012.
More than 40 leading economists were surveyed by the Associated Press recently and most expect the economy to be better during the next year. While the unemployment rate may not significantly improve, things seem to have stopped getting worse and a few segments are getting better.
Some nice trends at the end of 2011: Job growth has started. Gasoline costs less. Manufacturing has increased. Consumers decided to spend to have a nice Christmas.
And the best news is that analysts now predict the national economy grew at a 3 percent rate in the final quarter of 2011.
The majority of the economists surveyed by Associated Press thought the U.S. economy could withstand the European economic upheaval. Very few see a second recession as a possibility.
So being optimistic about 2012 seems reasonable when each Arizonan finalizes his/her New Year’s resolution list.
We do have a couple of resolution suggestions for the state’s governor and legislature.
First, keep the reins on state government spending. Leaders have done a nice job of cutting costs and balancing expenses to revenues and borrowing. Don’t screw it up now.
Second, resolve that the governor nor anyone in the Legislature will use the term “surplus” when referring to tax revenue. That term leads to more spending. The truth is that Arizona won’t have a real surplus for a very long time. The money that had to be borrowed to get the state through some tough years is still owed through bonds. And the state very soon (in 2014) faces an estimated $50 million loss in sales tax revenue.
If there is anything that America and Arizona might have learned during these economic hard times, it should be that we all have to live within our means. We hope that commitment to stay within what the state can really afford will be the top New Year’s resolution in the state house in 2012. That would be the best way they can help the economic recovery that may have already started and begin to make things better for more Arizonans.