While gasoline prices are still at record levels, one expert says there are signs the housing crunch is improving. Ernie Goss, an economist at Creighton University, says the situation with bounding gas costs is hurting a wide cross-section of Americans, but he sees the brightening housing market as a real plus at an opportune time.

Goss says: "Housing prices have come down every month since January of 2007. I expect housing prices to continue to drop for the rest of 2008, but I do think the rate of growth is slowing. We are seeing better economic conditions." Goss says even though this may feel like a recession, he thinks this period will not end up being called a recession when it’s all said and done. As for the holiday weekend ahead, he warns Iowans who are hitting the road to brace for pump prices to go still-higher.

"All factors look like we are going to see higher oil prices, but you never can tell," Goss says. "Right now, most people who are knowledgeable in this say we’re going to see higher oil prices, so that’s going to mean higher gasoline prices and it’s going to spill over into the rest of the economy." Many Iowans have already gotten their economic stimulus package checks from the federal government, but Goss doubts that cash will have as much of an impact on the economy as President Bush had hoped.

"It’ll be next year before we’ll be able to tell that and I really don’t think there’s much to the stimulus package," Goss says. "Individuals will just evaluate it and see that it’s not permanent income." He says frugal consumers won’t blow the money but will instead use it to knock down bills from credit cards and elsewhere.

Goss says, "Individuals are paying off debt. They’re going to be saving it, some individuals and families. It’ll be a very, very modest impact and I’m not supportive of the program at all." The I-R-S says Iowans who are single will get a maximum of 600-dollars. For couples, it’ll be up to 12-hundred dollars, plus another 300 for each qualifying child. Nationwide, some 130-million payments will be made for a total of 110-billion dollars. The checks are going out through mid-July.