The credit crisis hits home

Hiring and homebuilding have slowed. Job losses and foreclosures are up.

The Charlotte area hasn't been hit as hard as other parts of the U.S., but the downturn that has caused worry across the country and rocked financial markets last week hasn't left the region unscathed.

As the federal government scrambles to control the credit crisis, anxious residents are trying to figure out what the latest turmoil means to them.

Beyond the immediate impact on stock holdings, retirement plans and other investments, what happens on Wall Street ripples through key parts of the economy that affect almost everyone – where you work, what you spend and whether you or your company can borrow money.

“There's no way that Main Street can go on without some Wall Street impact,” said John Silvia, chief economist for Wachovia. “It's impossible to be entirely independent because everybody depends on credit.”

Even as growth continues in some areas, gloom is prevalent and often creates more gloom. Investors upset at their shrinking 401(k)s question whether they should buy a new car or new clothes, especially if their jobs are at risk.

Those economic shifts have reined in the hopes and ramped up the worries of many residents. How long they – and the region – can avoid a more significant setback has become a critical question for this fall.

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