Morning Brief: Lay-Offs Hit Washington Families

The Washington area is well known for its economic resilience. Nevertheless, several large employers have announced lay-offs and staff writer Brigid Schulte takes a look at the experiences of middle class families that have lost a wage earner today.

Each of the families learned how fast the slide to the bottom can be. One family was able to eat some months only because they became poor enough to qualify for public assistance. Another thinks bankruptcy might be the only option.

In mortgage news, giant Freddie Mac increased its support for the nation's ailing home loan market in October, in part playing the role the government desired when it seized the mortgage finance giant.

The company said on Monday that it bought $27 billion in mortgage-backed securities in October, growing its portfolio at an annual rate of 44 percent. The company's portfolio now stands at $764 billion; it may grow to $850 billion by the end of next year under the government's plan.

The purchases by Freddie -- and District-based Fannie Mae, which hasn't released its October data yet -- may have kept mortgage rates from skyrocketing amid the credit crisis. But they haven't reduced them, one of the goals of the government takeover.

And in holiday travel news, people in the Washington area are still planning to travel long distances for roasted turkey and the warm embrace of family.

Low prices at the pumps might persuade some folks to hit the road at the last minute, AAA says. Prices are down from an average of $4.11 a gallon in July to $1.91 now. (By Tracy A. Woodward -- The Washington Post)

Travel experts say the dramatic fall in gas prices -- down from an average of $4.11 a gallon in July to $1.91 today -- is likely to salvage a holiday travel season that had been predicted to be one of the worst in memory.

The number of Americans traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday is projected to dip only slightly, despite worries over the faltering economy, according to AAA-Mid Atlantic, a situation that was unexpected just a few months ago when gas and airline ticket prices were sky-high.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  November 25, 2008; 8:04 AM ET  | Category:  Economy , Economy Watch , Fannie Mae , Freddie Mac , Morning Brief
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