IB 100: July 2010

IB partnered with Chamberlain Research Consultants (CRC) to poll a pre-selected group of 100 companies. Chamberlain researcher Tony Trout structures the questionnaire, summarizes the data, and created a website so participating company presidents can receive “live” data. President Sharon Chamberlain has made her staff available to us to provide the business community with new tools, and we thank CRC for its ongoing contributions to this project.

Snapshot: We’re not as enthusiastic or optimistic this month as last. Given events in Europe and the oil spill, that might be anticipated, but it is disheartening to see another plummet. Chamberlain added new questions to stimulate more conversation, and results are included.

IB Asks

Commentary from our Participants

Significant nonprofit: We do a lot of “back-patting” about the jobs at the mid- to upper-income strata, but we don’t talk about people at the lower end of the job scale. Those who barely make living income wages are hurting and their unemployment and under-employment numbers are skyrocketing. The sad thing is that no one seems to care. Likewise, look at the racial disparities between employment and unemployment for blacks and whites. COWS reported (and reaffirmed in 2008), “In 2005, the unemployment rate for blacks in the state was 10.9%: 2.6 times the corresponding rate, 4.2%, for whites in Wisconsin. As for underemployment, in 2005, the rate for blacks was 17.1%, over 2.2 times the corresponding rate for whites at 7.5%.” So, before we go touting our successes, let’s talk about how we can get better and far more inclusive than what we have been in the past. We have to raise the boat for everyone.

Engineering Firm: I believe the current administration’s policies are anti-business and anti-growth; I will run my business with very conservative growth plans until there is a change in leadership. This means I will be very cautious about hiring any additional employees, even if I see an uptick in revenue. I have little or no confidence that there can be any real sustainable business growth with current leadership in this country.

Biotech Firm: The recession has been longer and deeper than many people anticipated. The banking environment is very difficult to support business as usual, much less expansion. It is challenging to identify which sector of the economy will lead us out of this recession. I don’t think more government spending is the answer. Perhaps more effective stimulus for the private sector?

Wholesaler: In past recessions, the housing industry helped lead the economy out of the recessions. Currently [it] continues to be a negative in the recovery effort. Unemployment levels in the construction industry remain well above national averages. I don’t see a recovery for housing in the immediate future, and therefore believe that the recovery will proceed at a very slow pace, with unemployment numbers showing little improvement. Government at all levels needs to get its fiscal house in order to convince consumers that government is not spending us into bankruptcy. For the pace of the recovery to speed up, consumers need two things — a higher confidence level and more money to spend on consumer goods. Tax increases diminish their ability to spend.

Builder: We are seeing a slight uptick in business activity. Being in the building industry, we will wait to see if increased activity can be sustained into fall/winter before declaring an improved economy.

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