American poet Nathaniel Parker Willis once opined that June is a “month of leaves and roses, when pleasant sights salute the eyes and pleasant scents the noses.” But those who have been following the recent economic reports that have come out this month, or who are experiencing them first hand, may not be feeling so “pleasant” nor poetically inspired.
The first piece of not-so-cheery news was the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment report which recorded an increase of a mere 54,000 jobs in May (a number that scored well below many initial economic forecasts) and an unemployment rate that stubbornly held at 9.1 percent.
On to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB’s) Small Business Optimism Index in which it was reported that aside from the slowdown in hiring, plans to purchase equipment, supplies, and/or inventory have “all weakened and remain at recession levels.” Many business owners have been raising their prices as inflation and poor sales remain top business concerns as well as uncertainty surrounding major legislative initiatives, such as health care, taxes, and credit reform. Needless to say, these days optimism has become a rare commodity among small business owners.
And finally, it was reported that the aptly named “Misery Index,” which is a calculation based on the sum of unemployment and inflation rates, reached a 28-year high last month. There are those who argue that the numbers are skewed and that we are actually holding a record highs.
All of this has been raising concerns that our fragile recovery (if we can even call it that) will dip back into a recession. Whether or not that happens still remains to be seen, but nonetheless, it seems that the economic storm clouds will be slow in passing. Keep your umbrellas handy.