Large biz bullish on economy; small biz not

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The year is halfway over and the economy is improving locally and nationally.

But the topic of economic recovery is still uppermost in the minds of most consumers and small-business owners.

Nationwide, large corporations are “very bullish” on the economy, said Richard Wobbekind, director of the business research division at Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado at Boulder.

That’s because national manufacturing has increased dramatically, he told the audience at the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp.’s luncheon at The Broadmoor on June 15. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index is at 60, and the nonmanufacturing index is at 55.

But small-business owners are not yet feeling confident – and for good reason. The current gross domestic product of 3 percent is not sufficient to lead employment recovery.

“We’ve literally had a decade (in the U.S.) of zero employment growth. A lot of people are calling it the lost decade,” Wobbekind said.

Not to mention that lack of access to loans and capital is still an issue that’s keeping small-business owners skittish.

Overall, Colorado Springs is on “a little bit better path than the state,” he said.

In the Springs, average housing prices are better than the state’s, and retail sales are up.

In the U.S., there’s good news, as well.

After nine consecutive quarters of declines, the net assets of households has gone up for the last three quarters.

So there is more basis for consumers to be comfortable and start buying again.

Here’s the caveat. Although July of 2009 will likely be the official end of the recession, that’s hardly enough to encourage consumerism.

“For most of us, when my neighbor has a job – that ‘s when the recession will be over, and my confidence will return, “Wobbekind said.