The Dow recently hit 10,000. Indiana economic pundits say the recession was over in February. The Wall Street prime interest rate is below four percent. Sounds good, right?
Maybe not. CNN Money says "Despite signs of broader economic recovery, the number of foreclosure filings hit a record high in the third quarter - a sign the plague is still spreading."
So what’s the real truth? What are our perceptions of business and the economy through this recessionary year? Over the last year CF Jones Group conducted three random polls in the commercial construction professional sector. We wanted to see the trends and perceptions.
A significant piece of information we asked about is the sector (private vs. public) where the respondents operate their business. Some interesting shifts through the year. In November, 2008, 72.4% of respondents served the private sector primarily. In April of 2009, that number dropped 59%. In September, over 75% of respondents returned to serving the private sector.
What’s the motivation that increased this figure from 59% to 75%? The corresponding motivator is theoretically the “Federal Stimulus” package and the anticipation of more work within the construction industry last spring. Now it appears the industry’s focus is back on the private sector.
From the second to the third poll, we added the phrase: Our firm will reap benefits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, showed 17% of respondents saying yes versus 21% in September. We were surprised this figure wasn’t higher.
Views on the economy and impact to businesses also were polled. Respondents reacted to the following statements related to revenue and the economy over the period:
We expect revenues to increase over the next six months.
November 2008 32%
April 2009 34%
September 2009 44%
Our firm’s margins continue to improve.
April 2009 16%
September 2009 37%
Our firm will expand its facilities during the next two years.
April 2009 14%
September 2009 19%
Credit for business is readily available.
November 2008 28%
April 2009 24%
September 2009 28%
Our local commercial real estate business is strong.
April 2009 8%
September 2009 9%
With the increased economic involvement of federal and state governments in the last year, the confidence in leaders also was considered:
I have confidence in our local and state elected officials.
April 2009 32%
September 2009 35%
I have confidence in our federal elected officials.
November 2008 13%
April 2009 20%
September 2009 21%
Sixty percent of the respondents to the third poll had participated in at least one of the previous two. Less than 30% of respondents had participated in all three. The majority, by a significant percentage, of participants were from the construction or design industries. Through all three polls the construction and design industries represented 79.1% of total respondents.
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