Local economy suffers as nation's jobless rate hits highest number in 26 years
Nov 7, 2009
Nov 9, 2009
First the city's only bookstore, now a high-end restaurant. Laredoans are wondering what’s going on with businesses here at home and asking if more closures are to come. A Laredo bookstore, a restaurant, and downtown businesses, all falling victims to an economy of uneasy consumers. “I was disappointed. It’s too bad they can’t stay open.” “Maybe more people are just buying groceries and cooking at home.” City representatives say it was all just a matter of time. ”It took awhile for the impact of the state of the economy to seep down to south Texas but it has” Says Laredo Chamber of Commerce president Miguel Conchas. The news comes as the government reports that the jobless rate hit 10 point 2 percent last month, the highest since 1983. Here in Laredo, September’s unemployment rate hit just over nine percent. At least 60 Outback Steakhouse employees may soon add to the list after the restaurant closes its doors Saturday. “I was like what! I was going to cook some chicken on the grill and I thought I’m going to Outback.” Miguel Conchas of the Laredo Chamber of Commerce calls the situation a double whammy of a bad U.S. economy and devaluating the Mexican peso. Chamber of Commerce officials say the next thing to do is advertise new shopping opportunities in Laredo this season, banking on shoppers to make it a merry Christmas in Laredo. Some stores sell as much as 50 percent of their sales for the year this season. The Chamber has now launched navidadenlaredo.com a website geared to the Mexican market advertising Laredo’s best offers, hoping to get even the smallest boost in sales. No one really knows for sure just how much people will spend but Conchas says perhaps the best news is knowing things could be worse. “But certainly again it is nothing we should sit back and say everything is cool because it's not.” Conchas says the swine flu also played a big role in scaring people away from the border. He says the biggest highlight at this point is that Laredo has not seen unemployment rates in the double digits compared to other border cities like McAllen, which has an 11 point 6 percent jobless rate.