Sign of the Times

January 28, 2019 Off By admin

What are the tea leaves telling you about the current state of the economy?  More importantly, are they telling you the economy is still heading down, marking time or already turning around?

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, don’t rely on the news reports in the papers or on television to provide you with the information you need to make the right moves with your business.  The news reports and most business reporters are still trying to convince us the recession is still getting worse.  However, not unlike their reporting which was behind the curve as we went into the downturn, they are and will be late on reporting the bottoming out of the recession and moving into the upturn for recovery.  There are several key, leading indicators you can track that will provide you with insight to the direction the recession is moving; housing and temporary employee hires.

As you know, the mortgage debacle, leading to the implosion of the housing market was a primary driver, leading to this recession. Housing sales plummeted, new housing starts evaporated and the economic downward spiral started.  Accordingly, it makes sense that housing supply has to be a key, leading indicator coming back out of the recession.  Currently, it’s just been reported we have a 10 month supply of housing to be sold, without any new construction being required.  That is a drop of two month’s supply from previous reports. While the supplies are heading in the right direction, it’s not good enough yet to declare the influence on the recession is over.  It’s estimated that when the housing supply reaches six months, without requiring any new construction, we can effectively consider the recession to be over.

The other leading indicator mentioned was hiring of temporary employees.  As businesses start to grow, they begin hiring temporary employees rather than permanent.  As the business continues to strengthen they will then start adding permanent employees.  Last month was the first month since the recession started over a year ago that temporary hiring has increased.  History has shown that when temporary hiring increases three months in a row, the economy has turned and we are out of the recession.

Does all this mean we can anticipate immediate return to prosperity?  The answer is no, but like the buds on a barren tree, we can see that things are changing in a positive direction.  It means we can begin to change our focus from a protectionist stance to a stance with more forward optimism.

Hopefully, during this past year you’ve been able to focus your efforts toward solidifying your position and gaining new clients. However, if it has taken all of your efforts and available cash to simply survive, you should cautiously congratulate yourself on your survival and start laying your plans for recovery.  Start thinking once again about growth.

The first thing I recommend you consider is how you will be staffing to support the growth of your business.  The people in your organization are one of your greatest assets for long-term business success.  With any luck, you have been able to hold on to the core of your qualified people, because we are going to be faced with a shortage of skilled people.  Certainly, before you consider hiring permanent staff, review your processes and procedures to streamline the manner in which you conduct your business in order to handle your business requirements with the least number of people.

I know that with over 5 million people currently unemployed, talking about a shortage of qualified people to hire may sound a bit strange. However, for some time now the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been projecting that by next year, 2010, there will be a shortfall of 10 million people to fill the skilled jobs requirements.  Given that the current recession was probably not factored into their timing, the 2010 date might be slightly premature.  However, all the elements that contribute to the build up of that shortfall are still in place and very real.

One business owner I spoke with last week had to make heavy reductions in staff in order to remain viable during the recession. He’s presently in the process of making a new hire.  He’s not making the hire because his business backlog has started to recover.  He’s making the hire because there is a specific type of person required to grow an important business segment.  He has wanted to hire this specific skill for several years, but had been unable to find anyone available that could meet the requirements.  Because of the recession, he has now found somebody available, that he can afford.  Even though he doesn’t need the person for the immediate future, he’s making the investment now for the long-term future of the business.

If there is any particular talent critical to the future of your business, now is the time to look for that talent.  If you wait until you actually need that person in support your business, it will probably be too late.  Qualified people with the skill-sets you will be looking for, will be in demand to fill similar requirements at other companies.  If you don’t move soon, the skilled people, you require will once again be in short supply.

May all your actions be Silver Bullets.

Sam Langfitt has more than 40 years of diverse business experience. This experience was gained leading companies overseas as well as domestically, with successful turnaround, M & A, joint venture and strategic partnering activities. He has served on Boards of Directors in Europe, Canada and the U.S. Mr. Langfitt has owned and operated two businesses, including his current practice, advising business, owners, CEOs and Presidents.Visit

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