Business Activity: US

Economies, businesses, GDP, revenue – all encountering a reduced pace of movement.  America seems to be faring somewhat better – thankfully not yet feeling the impact of the interest rate cuts from central banks.  According to figures from the US Commerce Department however, concerns over international trade issues are undermining business activity in the nation.

According to a recent WSJ article however:

“a private survey of business activity separately indicated a slight uptick in U.S. business activity in October, up from earlier lows.”

Still, even though there are real concerns for a recession, other data is indicating that America’s economy is faring well, “reflect[ing] economic strength.”

In addition, last month unemployment fell to a 50 year low and there was a hike in retail sales more than anyone anticipated in August.  According to BCA Research Chief US Investment Strategist Doug Peta:

“While the survey data have been steadily disappointing expectations, hard data have been a source of positive surprises. The labor market remains vibrant enough to exert downward pressure on the unemployment rate, and services continue to expand despite the contraction in manufacturing, both here and abroad. The expansion has slowed, but it’s not finished yet.”

Recent Job Creation

Last month more jobs were created in the nation’s private non-farm sector than economists predicted.  According to the ADP’s National Employment Report the entire private sector added 135,000 jobs in September, 10,000 more than WSJ economists were anticipating.

67,000 of these new positions are in large businesses and medium sized businesses added 39,000 jobs.  Small businesses also did well with an additional 30,000 new jobs.

Despite the fact that there are significant problems within America’s economy, the job market is on solid footing.  Unemployment has remained at the same 3.7 percent and there have been 107 months of continued job growth.  In addition, salaries have gone up by 3.2 percent over the last 12 months and unemployment rate in minority groups has decreased (African-American unemployment dropped .5%, a record low data since 1972.

So if there are issues with the US economy (which there are), as long as job creation continues to rise, so does optimism alongside it.

Growth of US Economy

The US Economy has enjoyed expansion recently in many sectors.  The two we will specifically look at here are: the Internet and beer.

In 2018, approximately 10% of America’s GDP came from the internet.  $2.1 trillion money was made from this sector according to estimates from The Internet Association.  This represents America’s fourth largest economic sector (1-3 being real estate, government, manufacturing).  The Internet provides almost 6 million (direct) jobs – 4 percent of all of America’s jobs and 13 million (indirect) jobs. $64 billion was spent by internet companies in capital expenditures.

In 2018, according to numbers from the Brewers Association approximately $79.1 billion was contributed to the American economy by craft brewers. This translates to around 0.4 percent of America’s GDP.  It is 4 percent higher than the contribution from craft brewery in 2017. The contribution from small and independent brewers was also significant with the provision of 559,545 jobs, 150,055 of which were directly from breweries.

America’s Minority Groups: How are they Faring

It is important to keep tabs on how minority groups in America are faring, particularly since Kim Hart recently pointed out that the country:

“is more racially diverse than at any point in history, and racial minorities are becoming more geographically dispersed than ever before.”

Hispanics and Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial  minority groups.  Plus the white population has seen a mere 0.1% growth since 2010 (as opposed to Hispanics at 18,6% and Asian Americans at 27.4% during the same time frame) with projected further decline moving forward.

At the moment of this writing we are currently in the middle of National Hispanic Month, a celebration instituted in 1968 originally known as Hispanic Heritage Week.  The idea behind this is to celebrate and recognize the contributions of the Hispanic community to America.  Now it continues for a month annually between September 15 to October 15. This year’s theme is “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation.”

In particular, the Hispanics are making a huge contribution to Hampton Roads in leadership capacities in business, education, faith, politics, military and more.  They are giving back disproportionately more to their communities than others.  Further, Hispanics have possession of 2.1 percent (573) of the 27,270 businesses operating in the region.  According to SimIS Inc. Hispanic founder and owner Johnny Garcia:

“The potential for Hispanics to grow our economy is enormous. The Hispanic community is the fastest-growing segment of the immigrant population. Clearly, Hispanic Americans will continue to play an important role, as our nation faces the challenges of the 21st century.”

In addition, there was a drop to 2.1 percent in unemployment figures for Asian Americans living in America in June of 2019. This is the lowest it has been since 2003 and indicates that this demographic is now looking (and finding) work in mainstream industries.  And, according to Kayleigh McEnanay, one of Trump’s campaign spokespersons:

“The Asian American community has never been stronger than under President Trump’s leadership.  Millions of Asian Americans have secured access to the strongest economy in modern history, with the Asian American unemployment rate hitting a record low under the leadership of President Trump.”

Consumer Views on US Economy

America’s economy is currently not in as poor state as some of the commentators are suggesting. When one looks at numbers of hiring, wage increase, and consumer spending the situation is far from bleak. In fact hourly wages increased.

According to the government’s job report at the beginning of this month, employers in America are actually adding jobs.  True, it’s at a lower pace (hiring at 130,000 jobs in August), but it is still happening.   Unemployment figures remained stagnant (as for the last 3 months) at 3.7 percent.   This is almost the lowest number for unemployment in 50 years.  Plus, the longer the good unemployment rate continues, the better for employees as bosses may have to adjust how they work to ensure longer-term growth.  In other words, they will have to provide better packages for workers and invest in training, equipment etc.

Average hourly wages increased by 11 cents last month which marked a 3.2 percent escalation from 2018 figures. Indeed, according to PNC chief economist Gus Faucher:

“With slower, but still-solid job gains and good wage growth, households will continue to spend. The U.S. economy should avoid recession.”

US consumerism is looking good also.  The highest jump in consumer spending in five years was witnessed in the 2019 April-June quarter.  July looked good as well.

Awards in Recognition of Goodness

There are a variety of awards presented to businesses and businessmen and women for success in their industry.  There are also some awards given to individuals who have demonstrated goodness and ethics with their personal conduct in their given industry.  Here we take a look at three of them.

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) presented two women from Rapid City, SD with a national award. The organization is America’s largest nonprofit entity which works with and promotes North American business leadership.  Lafawn Janis and Kimberly Tilsen-Brave Heart were recognized for having “demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business, their professions, or in their communities.” The NCAIED seeks to help with economic development, business development and leadership in tribal communities.

Tilsen-Brave Heart received the award for her work as owner of Painted Skye Management and co-owner of Et-i-quette Catering.  Janis for her work as Bluebird Consulting owner.

The American Bar Association recently presented Congressman John Lewis with the Thurgood Marshall Award for his commitment – through word and action – to civil rights in America.  Lewis is one of the original 13 Freedom Riders and a founding member and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. According to former president of the National Bar Association, Robert L. Harris:

“Congressman John Lewis is one of our most revered elder statesmen. His sacrifices for civil rights, justice and equality are unparalleled.”

Economic Optimism: News and Views

What are people’s thoughts on the current status of the US economy?  Is there more of a leaning toward optimism or pessimism? Here we take a brief look.

According to a June study from the NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), people are pretty optimistic about the economy. The finding was that:

 “While optimism remains at historically high levels, the June figure reverses the gain posted in May, with six components falling, three improving, and one unchanged. The Uncertainty Index rose substantially, increasing seven points to the highest level since March 2017. Last month, small business owners curbed spending, sales expectations and profits both fell, and the outlook for expansion dampened. When you add difficulty finding qualified workers and harmful state-level laws and regulations, you’re left with a volatile mix where uncertainty has increased to levels not seen in more than two years.”

Vis-à-vis employment in Mid-America, according to Ernie Goss, PhD, director of Creighton University’s Economic Forecasting Group and the Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics in the Heider College of Business, Omaha, Nebraska:

“Since December of 2018, the national employment growth rate has been approximately three times that of the region. Not surprisingly, approximately 40 percent of supply managers reported the shortage of qualified workers was the greatest economic challenge for their company for the next 12 months,” Goss said. “Due to shortages of workers in the region, U.S. Labor Statistics data show that the average regional hourly wage rate rose by 4.8 percent over the past 12 months, well above the national gain of 3.1 percent over the same period of time.”