Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Surface impressions

On my little visit to the coat of Maine, I tried to get some idea how the economy is doing. It's not a very scientific method, but I'd hoped to get some general impressions. It was actually pretty hard to figure things out. Don't think I did.

Traffic seemed down a bit. It was heavy enough, but not wacky crazy bad as in previous years. Could it be that the highway projects are actually improving the roads?

The campground we stayed at was full. There were a lot of events in area, so there was more attractions going on than normal. That could have filled the place. On the other hand, it could even be people camping who'd normally stay in a hotel.

The weather was absolutely perfect. No small thing in New England. People make an extra effort to get out, even when they can't really afford it. I should know, as that's pretty much what I did.

Restaurants were busy, but we had no unreasonable waits for tables.

Plenty of businesses were closed, yet plenty of new ones had opened too.

Then I looked at my family and friends who were sitting around the campsite. Some had lost jobs, but they were still getting by. Spouses were still employed. One young man works as a carpenter in VT and they keep him busy most days. Of course, my friends and family are pretty competent people.

So all in all, things looked normal enough. Of course, this is in a prime tourist area during a time of near perfect weather. The Maine coast appeared to be doing fine.

Heading inland, there's plenty of empty businesses and houses. Of course, the interior has always been depressed compared to the coast. It did look worse than in years past.

I guess that's the lesson for me here: economic conditions are not evenly distributed. How are doing depends on where you are.


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