According to a new survey by the Consumer Research Center, consumer confidence nationally surpassed expectations and hit a three-year high in February. It was the latest optimistic report on the economic recovery now underway.
Lynn Franco, director of the Consumer Research Center, said the index spiked “due to growing optimism about the short-term future.”
“Consumers’ assessments of current business and labor market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak,” Franco said. “Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”
To be clear, the survey measured expectations and not current conditions. But locally, Alabama’s economy stabilized during 2010 and is expected to show steady growth in 2011. That’s the forecast presented by the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at the annual Economic Outlook Conference held recently in Montgomery. Dr. Sam Addy, CBER Director, expects Alabama real GDP to grow more than 3.4 percent, faster than the 3.2 percent gain forecast by several economists.
Employment will begin to turn around this year, Addy said, following a decline in 2010. About 13,000 jobs should be added in Alabama. Unemployment will remain high for a while though, as the improving economy encourages more people to enter or reenter the labor force. State tax receipts could post a modest 1.2 percent gain in 2011, following two years of declining revenue.
After falling late, but steeply into the recent Great Recession, Alabama’s economy is rebounding more quickly than most states. Continuing diversification into biotechnology, aerospace, automotive, national defense, steel, shipbuilding, and other high-paying manufacturing and white-collar jobs is lending strength to the state’s recovery according to Dr. Addy.
William Bruce is an Accredited Business Broker and Appraiser. He currently serves as president of the American Business Brokers Association. He may be reached at WilliamBruce@bellsouth.net or (251) 990-5910.