How Do You Measure the Economy?

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On Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced their monthly jobs report, and the numbers were…well, “discouraging” seems to be the general consensus. (We’re up 96,000 jobs in August, but that just keeps pace with population growth. The unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, but that’s largely because 368,000 people stopped looking for work.)

But how’s that playing out for individual Brooklynites, the Brooklyn Ink wanted to know. The national stats measure the national climate, but what are our personal economic indicators here in the second-most expensive city in the country? To find out, they hit the ground, talking to 17 people around the borough — optometrists, artists, consultants, handymen — to find out how they gauge the state of the union.

For Clinton Hill grocery store owner Judeh “Jimmy” Jamal, it’s about the number of customers paying with food stamps (about 50/50, he says, though the number is increasing). Deeba Chaudri, an optometrist who lives in Brooklyn Heights and works in Manhattan, can tell how the economy’s doing by the number of people buying colored contacts along with their regular prescriptions (these days, not many). Williamsburger Neil Devlin measures the economic climate by what he’s eating for lunch — things are good if he’s eating “a decent slice of pizza;” if it’s weeks of peanut butter sandwiches and $3 falafel, the situation is bleak.

In Park Slope, Sarah Silver, the manager of Get Reel Video on St. Marks Place and 5th Ave, just wants a full-time job with health insurance. In addition to managing Get Reel, Silver, who has a background in motion picture production (“Every business that I’ve entered into since my college graduation has been a dying business”), also teaches film editing at three different after-school programs. She’s tired of the juggling act and is thinking about a new career teaching high school. But starting over costs money, too. “I’m really scared,” she told Brooklyn Ink. “I’ve been procrastinating what I need to do because I’m scared, but I just got to do it.”

But what about you? How do you measure how you’re doing?

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