I’m no economist nor do I pretend to be. Being introverted, I love to watch activity and things going around me as drive, visit new or old places or when interacting with people. Therefore, I’d like to include some of my recent observations on the state of the economy. As some wise men say, you can learn so much more by keeping your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open.
Driving from Indianapolis to Chicago about one week ago, the one key road to connect these two cities is I-65 in Indiana. For those who live in the Midwest, you may be familiar with this highway. Speed limit of 70 for cars and 65 for trucks over 7 tons (or something like that). These separate limits can create a logistical nightmare. There’s some 150 miles between Indy and Chicago where it’s quite useful to maneuver around the trucks and clusters of cars and trucks. I call it the Interstate Dance. My security gut tells me, whenever possible, I try to do the Interstate Dance around those clusters and avoid following trucks (including the gravel variety). Anyway, I’ve never seen so many semi-trucks on the highway. In addition, saw many signs on these trucks saying ‘Drivers Wanted.’ A few days later, on separate trips, drove into Chicago and up to Milwaukee and did additional empirical observations. Trucks, trucks and more trucks. These eighteen wheelers are racing to get back home, dropping off a delivery, or grabbing another delivery to keep businesses humming. Based upon what I see with so much activity, factory & economic production must be increasing. I wonder if others can feel the buzz on the highway. So I ask, How’s the Economy doing?
In my neighborhood subdivision of about 100 houses, there’s been so much activity this spring, more than I’ve ever experienced over the course of my 12 years as a neighbor. Weeks ago, one neighbor had his siding replaced. Another, his roof replaced. Both of these don’t appear to related to severe weather. Another neighbor had new brick walkways add to their backyard. Yesterday, my neighbor down the street had about a dozen Arbor Vitaes installed for privacy — the eight foot variety. I could go on. The building and landscaping activity is non-stop. Without question, all of these improvements bring much noise to the neighborhood. Could I equate a strong economy with the increased noise? Perhaps. I know at some point, there may be fewer things to replace or plant although you never know. In the meantime, the overall value of our homes are increasing with so much activity. With all the noise and activity, I ask, How’s the Economy doing?
I get recruiters and headhunters reaching out to see if I want this job or that. I don’t think I’ve experienced such aggressive headhunting in many years. Almost every day, there’s another emailing or calling me to inquire as to my qualifications and availability. Could I ask, How’s the Economy doing?
There’s the Kenosha Lakeside Mall (Wisconsin) about 25 minutes from my house. I’ve visited this mall about 5 times over the last 10-12 months. Every time I go, parking is a challenge. When parking is a challenge, I’m wondering what’s going on? Significant stores having a big sale? New job shopping? Shoe shopping? What are people searching for? Indeed, this outlet mall provides more bargains that many of the other traditional malls in the area. Perhaps the stronger economy is spurring people to spend some of their discretionary money? At the same time, consumers may be a little more discriminating when it comes to what they’re buying. They’re still buying and consuming, however, they are looking for more value. More bang for their buck or more likely to purchase things that they actually need. This activity compels me to ask, How’s the Economy doing?
When I ask, How’s the Economy doing?, I’m not even considering record corporate profits or the fact that advertising sales are increasing. Or what many economists are saying about the economy. As I work, travel or engage in consumer behavior, I sense the economic climate has really turned around, regardless of some of the naysayers.
Having said that, I’m know there are some folks who are still unemployed or aren’t working jobs aligned to their skills and experience. I also know there’s a growing wealth gap between the 1% and the rest of Americans. In addition, I’m thinking we need higher minimum wage standards in this country and once minimum wages are improved, the minimum wage should be tied directly to the cost of living. Those paying attention to the news, business and political events realize there are significant economic and financial issues most Americans will continue to grapple with in the foreseeable future. However, things have recently improved and according to the NY Times, the unemployment rate is at a 15 year low. We have a ways to go, however, there’s a lot more encouragement in the air realizing most parts of the economy continue to improve.