I'm sure everyone is happy to say goodbye to 2009 and its economic woes. In late 2009, economic analysts told us that the worse recession the nation had seen it decades was officially over - but not before decimating thousands of businesses and millions of jobs. Now the long, winding road to recovery lies ahead.
The results of the economic downturn are reflected in the results of our 24th Annual Corporate Survey and 6th Annual Consultants Survey, which appear in this issue. Plans for new facilities and expansions are down on a year-over-year basis, and cost-related factors top the list of our respondents' site selection priorities.
Nonetheless, recovery is beginning to take hold, albeit slowly. The Commerce Department reported 2.2 percent GDP growth for the third quarter of 2009; although this was less than expected, it comes after a record four straight quarters of decline. Additionally, sales of previously owned homes soared to the highest level in three years, spurred by federal aid. The housing market had led the nation into recession - so perhaps it will now lead it out.
Economists also project fourth quarter GDP growth to be even stronger. While unemployment remains high and credit tight, stronger sales of exports should help. Six straight months of growth in exports has, in fact, reduced the U.S. trade deficit to $364.8 billion for the first 10 months of 2009. Remarkably, that's nearly half the gap for all of 2008!
Among those having a positive outlook for the year ahead are many manufacturing company CFOs. Bank of America's 2010 CFO Outlook shows they have confidence in the ability of the marketplace to rebound from its recent downturn: 66 percent of those surveyed said they believe the national economy will expand in 2010.
The year ahead will be an interesting one for businesses and consumers alike. Both groups will be affected by events playing out on Capitol Hill. Myriad issues before Congress, including healthcare reform, proposed tax credits and incentives, job-creation strategies, and economic growth policies will help to shape 2010's economic news. We all hope the outcome will help to smooth the road to recovery and make for a good finish to 2010.