This week I noticed an exciting theme in business news: The US economy is doing well. “Dow Holds in Record Territory” appeared in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal. USA Today featured the headline “ADP: Businesses Added 198,000 Jobs in February.” And closer to home for me was “Look Who’s Hiring Again: Rust Belt Manufacturers,” which ran in Crain’s Chicago Business.
“The gains are small but real, driven in part by the resurrection of the auto industry and wage increases in China that make American manufacturing more cost-effective,” writes Meribah Knight. “Coming after decades of decline and unremitting layoffs, it’s a welcome reprieve.”
While Knight reports the Illinois manufacturing sector has added more than 43,000 workers since 2010, the big news is the nationwide jobs numbers. ADP, a payroll processing firm, reports that almost 200,000 jobs were added in February. Originally, economists forecasted a job gain of only 173,000.
“For the second straight month, small and midsize businesses accounted for most of the job gains,” Paul Davidson reports for USA Today. “Small businesses added 77,000, midsize ones, 65,000, and large companies, 57,000.”
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) tells a different story in its January report released February 12. NFIB’s Small Business Optimism Index increased only 0.9 points, which puts the index at its fourth lowest point in almost 40 years. “The Optimism Index barely budged in January,” says NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The only good news is that it ‘budged’ up, not down. If small businesses were publicly traded companies, the stock market would be in shambles.”
While the index reveals that the small business outlook hasn’t returned to where it was before the recession, comparable studies on large companies show they have exceeded pre-recession levels of confidence. A related New York Times article examines reasons behind the lack of recovery for small business. At first, loans were harder to get and domestic consumers weren’t spending their money. Now, dichotomies remain: Big companies have a larger global footprint, so they benefit from strong sales in places like China and India. Small businesses are more closely tied to the domestic economy.
The real story
With this contrary information about the state of small business, I want to ask you about your experiences. Is the record-breaking economy leaving small businesses behind? What are you experiencing that your counterparts at larger organizations aren’t? How can APICS support the unique needs of smaller businesses?
APICS has more than 200 chapters across North America and 80 international partners who are ready, willing, and able to assist supply chain and operations management professionals__whether your company employs 10 people or 10,000 people. Go to apics.org to see how APICS partners can help you and your organization improve your outlook.