The state government is staring at a billion-dollar shortfall in its $11 billion budget. Forecasters expect a region that grew 7 percent in 2006 to contract this year. Retail sales, which rose 16 percent in 2006, are dropping. Dennis Hoffman, an economics professor at Arizona State University, said he had never seen such a sharp turnabout in 25 years studying the local economy.
To many residents of the Phoenix area, which has long been one of the nation's sunniest economies, the solutions being offered by Washington may be too little, too late.
"We're in so deep that it doesn't seem like anything will help," said Rebekah Ao, 33, a pregnant homemaker who lives in a new four-bedroom home in Avondale with her husband, Otto, a truck driver. The Aos, with $50,000 in income, owe a total of $607,000 on mortgages for two houses they bought since they moved to the Phoenix area about two years ago.
Many business people and economists here do not expect things to pick up until the area works through its inventory of about 37,000 unsold homes, which could take three or four years.