Call me an incurable optimist. Although there is a long way to go, I'm seeing hopeful signs in the economy. Maybe it's just Michigan or the Midwest. And anything could go wrong and turn things back into recession. But I keep seeing and hearing things to smile about.
A short list.
Everybody I know that was looking for a job, has one. How did that happen? I heard an NPR story about how employment agencies are having trouble finding qualified manufacturing workers for their manufacturer clients. Just plain weird.
This year, I had a couple of windows replaced and the trim on the house painted (much too high off the ground for me). The paint company is using a new tech paint, so that's a little special, but they were up 20%+ in 2010 and look to be up 30% this year. The window company is having a record year and would like to expand the area they serve, but all their crews are busy and they can't find enough qualified crews to expand.
At work, we are having trouble finding enough tires to build all the cars we are selling. We have one car where we can't get replacement tires for the dealers when the customer wears out his tires because all the tires in that size are going into new car plants.
A guy that works out at my health club sells hydraulic switches and other industrial components. He says that he could sell 40% more than he is now, but the parts just aren't available.
On my recent road trip, I ran into a shortage of hotel rooms. In one Pennsylvania town, I called 1 day ahead and got the last available room in town. When I checked in, I asked why the town was so busy? Why was a little town in the middle of PA. full up on a rainy Tuesday night? The clerk replied that they were full every night all summer and through the fall.
Finally, a coworker and his wife are trying to buy a house here in Michigan. They've put in three offers in the last month, all were above asking price bidding wars, and they've lost all three houses because all they can offer is 20% down and a mortgage pre-approval.
It makes me wonder why, for the most part, the news is all so bad. Maybe, like the rest of us, the new media just got used to reporting bad news and isn't looking for good news. I hope my little list is the sign of good things to come.