I find that it is almost impossible to label the overall health of the economy. You can use general indicators to give a glimpse of the economy and its overall standing, but those numbers rarely tell the whole story. There are unemployment figures thrown into the equation, GDP indicators, overall production, economic growth as a whole, blah, blah, blah. Yet when you break down all statistics, you will find that some areas are doing better while others are doing worse. Some states seem to be rebounding while others are still stuck in the quagmire. Even if you expand the view to include a more global picture of our economic situation, it is almost impossible to get a comprehensive view. So what exactly am I trying to get at here? Instead of tracking the overall health of the economy and how it pertains to us and our lives, perhaps we should focus more on what we are doing to improve our lot and how we can go about doing it a little better. Just within the state of Connecticut there is an enormous gap between those who are doing well and those who aren't. To be grouped into one major statistic saying, "Oh, jobs are down in Connecticut," or "Job growth is stagnant", or "There is a slight uptick in job growth and economic production," can be quite annoying. I have talked to people who can't find work and to those who are having trouble keeping up with the amount of work. I have personally stopped listening to any measure of our economy because I find it often times to be disheartening and frustrating. Too often people take that measure of the economy and apply it to everyone.
I have people ask me on a fairly regular basis how work is going and if I am busy with the assumption that I can't be doing overly well because the economy isn't doing overly well. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Those I deal with on a business level would probably agree with me. I am in constant interaction on a weekly basis with business owners who are experiencing nothing but solid growth. Yet I also hear about the flip side without necessarily experiencing it first hand. When I go to the hardware store to buy paint and supplies for work, I hear about a good number of contractors who can't find any work at all. Here is the kicker though, I also hear about these contractor's quality of work (which is less than par) and I am not surprised. While the overall health of the economy may be somewhat stagnant with mild growth at best, it seems there has been a shift in what people want when they go shopping for services or products. Don't get me wrong, there is still a large portion of the economy that looks to save money (I am still one of those as I like to keep what I earn) and go the cheaper route. However, there has been a slight shift away from that when it comes to certain individuals. There seems to be a growing number of people who prefer a higher quality over a cheaper price knowing that the cheaper price might turn out to be more expensive in the long run. If you look at all products and services though, isn't that the case? If you are looking to save money, you can go out and buy the cheap version of a toaster for $10 dollars. Sometimes you will get your money's worth plus some, but often times you will find that you will need to replace that toaster more often than if you splurged and bought a $50 dollar toaster. The same goes for services. You can save money and go with the cheaper person (and have their work red-done sooner) or you can go with the more expensive person (and have their work last longer). It seems that people's buying habits are flipping slowly from cheaper to longer lasting, even if it means spending a little bit more.
What it all boils down to is positioning yourself for success within the economy. While not everyone can experience overwhelming success, I am a firm believer that if you put yourself in a position to be successful and work hard towards it, you will flourish. I am personally looking to hire one or two painters due to the influx of work that has been coming my way. I have never seen anything like this even before the economy took a nose dive into the toilet. I deal with people who are saying the exact same thing, yet we still hear that our economy is struggling to re-emerge as a potent global force. The only reason our economy has yet to flourish the way I know it can is due to over regulation and political meddling with the economy. But I am not going to delve into politics today, I simply want to stay with the economy. I have said this before and I feel it necessary to say it again, if people want to work, there is work for them out there, it just may not be what they were trained for or what they want to do. In my attempt to hire people, it is a struggle to find people who actually want to work hard and will put in their best effort. It is sometimes mind boggling to hear people complain about their economic situation yet not be willing to get up and do something about it. After all, this is the country of opportunity. While that opportunity may not be sitting, waiting for you on the door step, it is there for those who want it. To make the most of any opportunity takes effort and people need to realize that there will never be cash floating around in the air. If people want to work, go find work. If people don't want to work, all I ask is that you don't complain about it. (Disclaimer: I am sure I will get some flack for what I am writing about today, but it is simply my perspective and not necessarily indicative of other's feeling towards the economy. I know a lot of people who have honestly struggled to find work and still can't. I also feel though, that by re-inventing who we are and re-investing our efforts towards our strengths, then anyone can find work.)