The economy continues to recuperate from the recession, but slowly, no “miracle cure” from the government or the Fed.
The small business sector (producers of half of private GDP) has been a laggard in the recovery, while manufacturing and exporting have led the way.
But, “Main Street” seems to be finding its legs.
The National Federation of Independent Business(NFIB) reported the fourth monthly gain in its Optimism Indexfor small business owners, that’s the good news. The bad news is that the Index, at 94.5, is still well below the 30 year average prior to the recession of 100.
The good news was an improvement in the percent of owners with “hard to fill” job openings, a strong indicator of the direction of the unemployment rate, and in the net percent of owners planning to increase total employment (create jobs).
The reported gain in employment per firm was the best in three years.
The onset of the recession precipitated the most massive reduction in employment recorded in the NFIB surveys (started in 1973), but that now seems to be over (confirmed by the first really good jobs report for February).
Still, the “employment gap” is large.
We produce as much GDP as we did in the peak in 2007, but are using 6.8 million fewer workers to do it. The rebound in spending in the services sector has been weak, and a million housing starts are still “MIA” (relative to demographics etc.). At, say, 5 jobs per start, this could account for 5 million missing jobs.