Dow might be up, but small businesses still struggling

March 6, 2013 at 10:56 am 3 comments

The Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record-breaking high yesterday, which according to the Wall Street Journal, means that we’ve finally overcome the huge losses caused by the Great Recession. While many are breathing a sigh of relief and are expressing a cautious optimism about the economy, it should be noted that the Dow is not the only measure that matters. The Daily Intel points out that it is just one of many indicators of the health of our economy– and most of the others are still looking bleak.

First of all, as the Daily Intel put is, “the Dow’s all-time high doesn’t mean that actual Americans are reaping the befits.” In fact, household income continues to decline, which is a big factor in the recent discussions we’ve had about growing wealth inequality in the U.S.  Which leads to the second point– that this economic recovery is significantly slower than recoveries from previous recessions. Again, this relates back to the political inequality and disparate political priorities between the wealthy and general public, which we blogged about yesterday. There are fewer good jobs available, and while unemployment and underemployment remain persistently high– higher and for longer than previous recessions and recoveries– public policy debates have been focused on other things such as deficit reduction:

This disparity is primarily due to the fact that politicians in Washington are more concerned with deficits than unemployment, and that federal, state and local governments have been cutting back on spending just at the time when it’s needed most.

While large corporations are seeing their stock prices rise, small businesses are yet to benefit from the rallying stock market. Without an uptick in consumer demand, sales remain weak, and many small businesses still cannot access the capital they need to start up and expand. As both the Los Angeles Times and Politico report, unemployment has remained high because small businesses– key job creators– continue to face barriers.  Demand for small business loans are up, but accessing these loans is still difficult.

In sum, the Dow is just one measure of our economic strength, and it largely indicates the health of our biggest corporations. It is certainly a positive sign that these companies are rebounding from the incredible blow dealt by the fiscal crisis. However, there are many other indicators that, together, enable us to analyze where our greatest weaknesses lie. Clearly, we need to address the issue of declining wages and increasing inequality. But we also need to consider the needs of small businesses and allow them to flourish and create jobs.

As policymakers continue to grapple with how we get our economy growing again, small-business leaders, lenders and owners are coming together to encourage them to remember what works, what doesn’t work and to not cut off the fuel to the engine of economic growth they so love to praise.

 

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Jobs & Employment, Small Business. Tags: , , , , , .

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