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Editorial: Economy has some good spots

Everywhere we turn in recent weeks, we read about job cuts, companies facing bankruptcy and major companies seeking bailouts from the federal government.

There is no doubt that United States is in a major recession. In fact, government statistics now state we have been in a recession since December 2007.

The facts are rather stark. The nation's job market lost more than 34,000 jobs this week and more than 533,000 jobs in November alone. To date, the job losses for 2008 have totaled 1.9 million Wages have stagnated and production has slowed.

President Bush and Congress are not standing still. They have moved to assist major financial and insurance companies. They are listening to concerns from the U.S. auto industry, which is facing significant challenges.

There are some positive economic signs.

First and foremost, the price of oil has dropped significantly in recent weeks and the price gas is now in the $1.70 range. This is a real positive in every households each time the family car is filled.

Second, the housing crisis has not hit west central Minnesota as deeply. Housing prices are more stable, and certainly not dropping as significantly as in many hot markets.

Third, regional unemployment figures are below the national average. In fact, some upper Midwest metro markets (Sioux Falls, Sioux City, Des Moines, Rapid City, and Fargo ) are reporting strong employment pictures.

While the state economy is in a mild slowdown, the full impact of the nationwide recession has not hit here. Trends in energy, agriculture and our business diversity are helping west central Minnesota weather this recession storm.