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Big Stories of 2009: The Economy

By Lee Howard

Publication: The Day

Published December 28. 2009 4:00AM   Updated December 28. 2009 10:04AM

It was our year of living precariously. The region stumbled into January with an unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, 2.5 percent above the average for the previous year. That same month, Pfizer Inc. announced it would be laying off 500 scientists, and the Mohegan Sun said it would have to cut workers' salaries to maintain jobs.

Real estate sales took a major tumble at the beginning of 2009, with transactions dropping by anywhere from a quarter to a third from the year before. The foreclosure rate by summer had hit a high water mark not seen in the past 30 years.

By year's end, real estate prices started to stabilize, thanks partly to an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers, but homes still had lost more than 10 percent of their value.

Car sales, hit hard in the depths of the recession, made a comeback in the summer, spurred on by a national cash-for-clunkers program. But several new-car retailers in Connecticut, including Falvey's in New London, lost their dealerships as Chrysler and General Motors, on the verge of bankruptcy, moved to consolidate operations.

Businesses scrambled to be frugal, but by year's end only the strong survived.

- Lee Howard

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