Slow-motion rebound

The economic recovery from the crisis that began three years ago has been agonizingly sluggish, like watching a super-slow-motion video of a basketball bouncing upward.

Still, the signs of recovery continue, nationally and locally. One important indicator hereabouts is the news from Mesa County that sales tax revenue increased each of the final four months of 2010, when compared to the same month the previous year. That’s particularly impressive because the four months of increases followed 21 straight months of sales tax declines.

Nationally, the stock market has been rising modestly, albeit in fits and starts. Consumer spending and manufacturing have both been increasing of late.

Glaringly absent from these good-news indications, however, is any significant reduction in unemployment. Nationally, it’s still hovering around 9.4 percent.

The New York Times on Tuesday published op-ed pieces from a panel of economic experts that it asked to explain the slow job growth. The opinions included the expected: the need for better education of our unskilled workers, weak demand for many products, the poor housing market and the associated problems with jobs in the construction sector.

In this region, it’s obvious that a resurgence in the natural gas industry would do much to improve the job situation.

Two experts from George Mason University, however, noted that many businesses cut their work forces when the recession hit, increasing efficiency in the process.  Many have found they can meet the demands of a slowly expanding market without hiring back the workers they lost. Those marginal jobs will only come back when the economy expands more rapidly, they said.

We’re pleased to see the indications of economic improvement, especially the local sales tax numbers. But we won’t have a solid recovery until jobs return.


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