With spring just around the corner, I’m sure you’re all getting geared up for your busy season and preparing for what will hopefully be a successful summer. In the wake of a devastating recession, with unemployment rates hovering around 9 percent and gas prices climbing steadily closer to $4 a gallon, it can be difficult to recognize the positive progress our economy is making toward a recovery, but things really are getting better – a lot better.
The most recent reports show that in February, service industries expanded at the fastest pace since 2005. The Institute for Supply Management’s index of nonmanufacturing businesses increased to 59.7 last month, up from 59.4 in January. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in an industry, so this report is a great sign that business activity has increased across the board.
In other positive reports, consumer confidence, while still understandably shaky, is gaining. The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had increased to 64.8 in January, improved further in February to 70.4 – the highest it has been since 2008. According to Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, “The Consumer Confidence Index is now at a three-year high, due to growing optimism about the short-term future. Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak. Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”
While the road to recovery will undoubtedly be a long and bumpy one, we’ve made great strides and are gaining ground every day. I can’t imagine there any many businesses in the country that emerged from the recession unscathed; as we gradually inch our way toward a stable economy, we must dust ourselves off and begin to rebuild our businesses – stronger than they were before, and better equipped to weather future financial storms.
To learn more about business practices, see Building a Better Business By Jenan Jones Benson.