After months of negative economic activity, the United States declared it was officially in a recession in December 2008. Stocks started to tumble, businesses saw slower or stagnant growth, production shrank and millions of jobs were lost.
By last March, the unemployment rate in Indiana had risen to 10.7 percent. By comparison, in 2008 it was 8 percent. Correspondingly, the unemployment rate has also risen nationally, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although the unemployment rate in Indiana is not the highest in the nation, people are still out of work and want to know when the effects of the recession ending will begin to surface.
The good news is that things are starting to look up. More than 400,000 U.S. Census Bureau temporary jobs were recently filled, which nudged the economy forward. And other signs might signal the recovery has begun. The U.S. unemployment rate as of May 2010 was 9.7 percent, which is down from January’s 10.1 percent. Economists believe that over the next couple of years, the economy will add jobs and job security will improve. Business owners and experts say the worst part of the recession is over.
President and CEO of GO Companies John Merriweather said it was not always easy to keep a business running and generating revenue through the recent economic conditions, but said the passion that he and his employees have for business has helped them rise above the economic crisis. A series of management, procurement and sourcing services companies, GO Companies is comprised of GO Global Orientation, GO CityWise and GO ResourceLink.
“To thrive in these economic conditions, you need to be laser-focused on the revenue generating aspects of your organization,” said Merriweather. “Conditions such as these expose weaknesses within businesses that might otherwise go unnoticed.”
Bringing interns into the office is another great way to keep a business from growing stagnant. Good new ideas engender revenue for a business, and fresh, creative interns can help spur them. They also add to the longevity of a business in addition to providing new ideas. The thought of hiring interns is often a simple one, but according to Merriweather, it’s the interns that GO Companies looks to for fresh, new thoughts.
“It can be extremely refreshing to integrate objective and tenured viewpoints into the everyday practices of the company,” he said.
Still, some people aren’t letting their guard down quite yet.
Business owners, like Merriweather, have had to find various ways to keep their business alive during the recession and business students have had to consider the struggling economy as they contemplate starting a career in their field of study.
Tynishia Weatherspoon, a senior accounting major at the Miller College of Business, said professors are doing an awesome job continuing to teach textbook economics that not only highlight the times when the economy was thriving, but also its points of struggle.
“By sticking to textbook economics, I feel as though (professors) avoid biases,” said Weatherspoon. “If they taught us the real world economics, it would be their view on how they look at the economy, but by teaching us the textbook way, they give us the opportunity to make our own opinion and view on the economy.”
“Being an accounting major, I don’t feel as though my field has directly been affected by the economy. Accountants are in demand in law offices, hospitals, non-profit organizations etc., and it is my hope that these companies continue to hire after I graduate.”
There are many views on the economy from business owners, economists, educators and others. However, Michael J. Hicks, director and associate professor of economics at the center for business and economic research at Ball State University, believes the economy is definitely on the upswing.
“The recession is clearly over,” said Hicks. “Now that the recession is over, it is time to start the recovery process. The businesses that are still standing are marginally-efficient companies.” He added that the nation has experienced a two-part recession: the rise of gas prices and the collapse of the stock market.
“This past recession is not the worse thus far. The unemployment rate has only gone up an additional 5 percent, from the 5 percent unemployment rate that we were at before we (U.S.) entered the recession,” said Hicks. “Businesses have to be willing to hire to begin to grow their company during this recovery, adding hours to employees’ workday is only the beginning.”
Economic activity in the first couple of years after a recession ends helps to determine if it’s truly over or not. If the nation does not see strong productivity within one to two years after the recession has been declared over, the recovery may be slower than expected, noted Hicks. But we are seeing growth, which is a positive sign. Next, businesses will be expected to begin investing back into their business by ending hiring freezes, trusting in the economy and in the business that they have built and maintained.