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      29 / 23

      Troubled economy or bouncing back?

      L ocally and nationally, we're hearing of job layoffs from places ranging from Beef Products Inc. to Yahoo.

      With other ominous things happening at the same time, do you sometimes think our economy is in trouble?

      From job losses, drought, gas and beef prices, and the fact that it's an election year, many wonder, are we really bouncing back from a recession, or are we on the brink of a double dip?

      "The local economy is still plugging along . W e're still adding new jobs, but retail is up but construction has really slowed down and the drought is still affecting agriculture. Our economy has been improving for the last 15 months so, once again, our recession wasn't as bad as the national economy and that really helps us recover a lot faster," said Pat Ware, Amarillo National Bank, VP.

      The last available figures show Amarillo's unemployment rate in January was 5.2%, and with the 200 or more jobs lost at the local BPI plant, Ware says our local economy will feel it.

      But he doesn't think it will have a big effect on the market, and that's thanks to places like Bell Helicopter and Amarillo Gear.

      "That will affect us going forward but we still think we have a good strong manufacturing base that will continue to add jobs," said Ware.

      As for those projected gas prices, "$4.00 gas is everyone's biggest concerns and it will have a big hit on disposable incomes," said Ware.

      Moving forward, economists say they're keeping an eye on several things, mainly drought recovery and its effects on our AG industry.

      "Around here its certainly the weather and nationally there will be uncertainty because of the election, it's kind of a sit and wait for now," said Ware.

      A waiting game that could turn in a second.

      Ware adds, right now, it appears our wheat crops will be healthy this year.

      Another good sign that Mother Nature is being a little more kind to our drought-sticken farms.