Top economists deliver ugly truths at forum in downtown Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In more than 30 years as a realtor, Sandra Nickel remembers the toughest thing she had to do not long ago.

"The hardest thing was having to let go 5 of my employees," Nickel said.

Today, Nickel and more than 300 like her in the business world did not get the news they had hoped to hear on the economy, no meaningful sign that it's turned the corner.

"This is very disappointing," she said.

The problem we're told is in general people aren't spending any money. One economist at the 29th annual business economic forum predicted the nation's unemployment rate will rise one percentage point by this time next year, and another added..he believes the housing troubles will get worse long before it gets better.

Not the kind of thing Nickel wants to hear.

"They all seem to be saying the same thing," Nickel said.

Still, there are those who believe it could be much least in Alabama. Governor Robert Bentley and Montgomery mayor Todd Strange.

"We make a lot of cars in Alabama," Governor Bentley said proudly.

"Our sales tax revenues were up. This year alone we've added 600 new jobs to the local economy," said Mayor Strange.

During the forum speaker after speaker said the nation's economy as a whole is growing but at a very slow rate. Depending on your perspective there is one positive development but it's a catch .22.

While people aren't spending there is compelling evidence that more and more Americans are saving, now more than ever and reducing their debt.

Sandra Nickel says in an odd way she found the forum 'comforting.' That is some of the top minds on the economy didn't shy away from what they believe is the hard truth, no sugar-coating.

Nickel feels she at least knows what she's dealing with as a small business owner and that means only one thing.. more hard work down the road.

Auburn Montgomery hosted the forum but it was sponsored by the business community.