Dean Barber

Your Turn

In Site Selection on September 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

In response to my latest blog — What Recovery? — some of you had some very interesting and worthwhile comments. I may not agree with all of them, but here’s a sampling, edited for space.

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“A couple of weeks ago, a friend posted a link to a story on Forbes, talking about how Obama has created more jobs and other such criteria than had Reagan. And while the raw numbers of jobs may be accurate, comparing the types of jobs (part-time vs. full-time, “just a job” vs. career jobs, underemployment) as well as the salary data shows some serious gaps in where we were vs. where we are now. The idea of economic recovery being measured by stock market performance just isn’t an accurate yardstick, especially when all we hear about are companies sitting on massive amounts of savings and cash but crucially not investing it in hiring.” — Brad in Fresno, Calif.

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“It is hard to get people to come together to impact on unfair policies related to trade, exporting jobs, importing workers, union-busting, inequality and other such matters that are at the heart of this ongoing crisis. I see it even in my personal life…those family members who have sustained employment through the crisis have no empathy for those who lost jobs or whose wages plummeted, or who have lost homes and life savings.

I would almost have to argue that this economic crisis has waged war on the character of humanity, on caring about and for one another, and on our deepest levels of consciousness and psyche. Charitable giving is at an all time low. Callousness seems to be at an all-time high. Suicide rates are sky-rocketing as are alcoholism, drug abuse and other social indicators of bad times.

I do feel vindicated in some ways when I read articles like this one …and want to post it on the bulletin board of the world and say in a megaphone…SEE, IT REALLY IS BAD! We are not making this up, there really are no descent paying jobs…and the economy is continuing to tank.” — Colleen in Upper Black Eddy, Pa.

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“…it’s really a much broader and deeper structural problem that we are only now starting to understand. As the impressive growth of developing countries continues, the U.S. and the rest of the West will either slowly but surely decline or certainly grow very slowly. If our manufacturers knew how to serve and sell to this growing base of consumers, I believe you’re correct in stating that we would have much stronger growth in the West going forward. I don’t believe that our generation (The Boomers), however, has the global mindset to pull this off. I am optimistic, however, that the next few generations will be successful in beginning to reestablish not just good economic growth but sustainable economic growth. They seem to be more globally aware and less selfish than we are.” — Bill in Plano, Texas.

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“The haves and the have-nots are nothing new. But, just because it’s an age-old problem doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t pay attention to it. Bad for both our economy and our society We see this when talking about neighborhoods and between neighboring communities. It could be even worse when we talk about regions and countries in the same terms. This has been and continues to be the source of much unrest and conflict…and it’s damned expensive.” — Bob in Kansas City, Mo.

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“Two additional thoughts about the lack of growth in wages: it is coupled with increasing prices and young entrants (out of college) are saddled with previously unseen levels of debt service. Some would argue inflation is low, however certain categories are increasing (food) which puts additional significant pressure on consumers (especially younger ones). You know what this means for growth… thus slow, slow recovery.

We, like England are in and continuing to build an economic model that requires debt to operate. Remember when no one leased a car? Nobody used a credit card to buy food? People used cash to buy things? That was an economy centered upon equity. As we continue to move to an economy centered upon debt, it will be much harder for the masses to respond to an economic shock (recession). If you own your car you have no lease payment, if you loose your job. That is not to say a debt centric economy is all bad; like with most things, balance is what it is all about…. food for thought on another topic for you.” — Stephen in Los Angeles

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“I hear so much about manufacturing and how it is our future engine for creating jobs but just don’t see it happening here in Massachusetts. Despite all the money we throw at setting up consortiums to train machinists and try to get high school students to consider STEM there is little to account for. Combining the flavor of the day- say Veterans and manufacturing has been a home run for getting funding for a training program but the outcomes just don’t support the investment. We need help in seeing the big picture in real terms.” — Bob in Brockton, Mass.

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“The facts don’t lie. Median incomes are stagnant. But apparently people’s priorities have shifted so dramatically that those same younger people who are concerned about their future earnings still stand in long lines to spend $400 on a new phone that doesn’t do much more than the perfectly good one they have in their hands now. What recession, indeed?” — Linda in Irvine, Calif.

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“The manufacturers that are coming back require only a small amount of the workforce they required in the past because of technology. Technology is also touching numerous other industries; banks for example are closing left and right because people are moving to online banking. The pressing questions that I see is what are the low/no skilled workers going to do (other than demand higher pay) and how is the US going to capture market share and compete in the emerging global markets?

I feel the US has made significant strides in becoming more competitive with other nations (still plenty of room to grow) but the world is changing and nobody really knows exactly how we need to readjust ourselves to remain the dominant economy. We live in an unprecedented time in history and the next 20 years are going to be very interesting. Despite the problems we have in this nation, I do think we’re resilient, (mostly) hard working, and have a lot of ingenuity. Hopefully that will count for something. Overall, it’s a great time to be in Economic Development.” — John in Brunswick, Ga.

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“With the slow to non-existing growth of income comes an opportunity for those who are enterpreneurs. I found that many people who have stagnant wages are looking outside of the traditional business model to bridge the gap in their income. These people are looking for business opportunities where they can keep their day time jobs and do part time businesses at nights and weekends to bring economic growth for themselves and their families. There are a growing number of people who are doing home based businesses. It’s what I call being adaptable to the changing business environment. These people are discovering their enterpreneural genes that laid dormant during booming big businesses that employed them before 2009.” –Lan in Gilbert, Ariz.

Coming Sunday on Barberbiz

A new report by the National Association of Manufacturers warns that the status quo won’t do for U.S. infrastructure funding if the country is to avoid a competitive decline.

I’ll see you down the road.

Dean Barber is the president/CEO of Barber Business Advisors, LLC, a site selection and economic development consulting firm based in Plano, Texas. If your company needs an optimal location for future operations anywhere in North America, we can help. If your community needs to improve its competitive standing, we can help. All requests for information are considered confidential.

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