Construction spending, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, climbed almost three times more than expected in October, providing a new sign of positive economic movement that affects almost every sector of the economy. The inventory of unsold homes has dropped to its lowest level in a decade and mortgage rates remain at record lows.
Business owners know that the construction and real estate industries are major economic engines which drive consumer sales. Home sellers spend money on improvements to add curb appeal. Buyers spend money on redecorating, and new home construction relies on a vast array of support businesses.
Though Irish writer George Bernard Shaw once said, “If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion,” there are growing signs of economic recovery.
Over the past several years, we have been reading and hearing about positive economic indicators, but that news has been consistently tempered by warnings about the fragility of consumer and investor confidence. This December, the economic assessment is less tentative.
The holiday shopping season provides another yardstick with which to measure prospects for the coming year. American consumers have been packing into shopping malls which, only five years ago, looked like ghost towns.
There still may be reasons to be cautious. Political budget fighting and international instability continue to be wild cards that can put a dent in a recovery. Nonetheless, even those economists are citing numerous statistics which show positive, tangible improvements in the marketplace.
While they still may not agree, as George Bernard Shaw pointed out, they are reading the same economic reports, and there is no disagreement that these indicators are showing renewed consumer confidence that gives reason for optimism for businesses in the New Year.