Not a Clear Economic Picture - The Missourian: Opinion

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Not a Clear Economic Picture

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Posted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 12:00 pm

There have been few economic periods in our history that have been as perplexing as what we are experiencing now. The economy is not good except for pockets of businesses that are doing quite well. There has been no universal recovery.

The statistics are confusing. Some of the numbers doled out by government agencies are founded on politics. What to believe and what not to is the state of reports the public are given.

It does appear to be accurate that the job creation numbers are not as high as the jobs lost numbers. This varies state by state, county by county. Competition is fierce to land a new industry because companies know incentives are available and why not go after them. Much of this area’s growth in jobs has come from existing industries that have and are expanding.

Downsizing is common today as companies try to adjust to falling revenues and too much overhead. Talk to almost anybody in business today and they will tell you profit margins are down. Competition is tough in every field. One sad thing being heard is that there is a loss of loyalty in business today. Customers chase the bottom line. That’s all they are looking at regardless of how a company has treated its clients with excellent products and service.

The Missourian runs many help wanted ads in nearly every issue. Employers tell you there is a shortage of workers with the skills required for today’s industries. We have training programs available through the area vo-tech schools and that helps but it’s not enough to supply the skills demand. Many of the jobless lack the skills needed today. There are other jobs that are available but considered by the jobless to be below their level and that’s why some immigrants have jobs and Americans don’t.

Franklin County’s jobless rate is above the state average because of local residents who were employed in St. Louis city or county. For many of the people out of work, the type of jobs they had are gone, never to return.

We have industries that are running two shifts to keep up with the demand for their products. We have others that are not that busy and some businesses are just barely holding on, trying to stay alive. That is particularly true in the small retail businesses.

Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that there are new signs of a global slowdown. The Journal said there are weak economic reports in the United States, Europe and China. Orders for durable goods, even in China, are sluggish.

We are not out of the recession. It’s not as bad as the 1930s. Of note is that for years many of our historians gave credit for this country’s emergence from that depression to the start of World War II, which did stimulate the economy. In other words, they don’t believe the New Deal of the Roosevelt era in the White House took us out of the Depression. One school of thought that is gaining acceptance among historians is that giving our industries freedom to produce products for the war was the main stimulant. In other words, giving our industries a free hand, not bogged down in government regulations, ended the Depression.

Allowing private enterprise to operate freely ended the Depression of the 1930s and FDR quietly approved of that approach; in fact, he promoted the idea. That’s the conclusion of some students of history. We all know there can be abuses under that modus operandi but do the benefits outweigh the negative?

/opinion

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