Small businesses face a flurry of financial problems of varying degrees, from excessive credit card processing fees to unanticipated expenses. But the ongoing economic crisis has exacerbated these problems and added new ones. Unsurprisingly, small business owners have been as eager as any other Americans to see an end to the crisis. How close is the economy to returning to normal?
At first glance, the prospects for recovery look grim. Since the official end of the recession, consumer spending has grown by only 6.5%. The unemployment rate has not dropped below 8% for more than three years, and more than five million Americans have been out of work for longer than six months. More than 640,000 government jobs at the federal, state, and local level have been cut. Only 46 percent of all jobs lost in the recession have been replaced by new ones.
However, there may be cause for optimism. Recent polls found that an increasing number of Americans think that the economy will improve within the year. Since consumer confidence is one of the major engines that drive the economy, that belief could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Excessive frugality—caused by uncertainty about the future—works to keep an economy stagnant.
Statistics suggest that Americans are feeling more confident about buying. In July, national retail sales rose by 0.8 percent—higher than experts had anticipated, and the highest boost in consumer buying patterns since the start of the year. The beginning of 2012 also saw a notable increase in the number of new jobs around the country. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 500,000 new jobs were created in January and February, lowering the unemployment rate to 8.3 percent. These small but significant improvements bode well for the coming year.
Cutting needless expenses is essential to keeping ahead of your competition in a troubled financial climate. Merchant Advocate is a New Jersey-based company that specializes in finding ways for companies to save on their credit card processing expenses. Visit us online for more information, or call (732) 727-2073 if you have any questions about our credit card services.