Despite some serious concerns concerns about ferocity, velocity and volatility in today's political environment, I am actually bullish on the country's economic prospects. I'm one of those hubristic fellows who has their confidence in America's strength versus China's overheating and Europe's structural decline.
Take a look at these unemployment figures, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment.
Instead of the tough numbers from the Labor Department, they measure it at 8.3% in mid-October — down sharply from 8.7% at the end of September and 9.2% at the end of August.
A year ago, Gallup’s U.S. unemployment rate stood at 10.0%. While seasonal hiring patterns may explain some of this improvement, the drop suggests the government could continue to report an unemployment rate of less than 9.0%.
That's the macro level. What about at the micro level?
Anecdotally, there are signs of growth all around Tampa Bay and, specifically, St. Petersburg. Look no further than Fourth Street North for evidence to the argument that, economically, the worst may be behind us.
Moving from downtown north along Fourth Street, look at all that is happening.
- The opening of a World of Beer franchise at First Avenue South.
- Head north and there is a Dunkin Donuts opening near Eleventh Avenue North.
- Casita Taqueria now offering fresh Mexican on 27th Avenue North.
- A much-needed Office Depot debuting in the Northeast Shopping Center.
- A Verizon store going into the long-dilapidated building at 44th Avenue.
- An Achieva Credit Union and a mattress store near 62nd Avenue.
All of this, while not counting the return of Fred Flemings, the opening of Hooters, the launch of a new pediatric clinic and whatever else I am missing.
Mostly, these were businesses filling holes in the community. The location where the Office Depot now resides has been vacant for over a year.
All told, these developments have to be worth 150 - 200 small business jobs. No, they are not high-end creative or engineering jobs, but they are good-paying small business jobs. And that is not counting the construction work that went into building or refurbishing these businesses... and not counting the fees paid to City Hall.
Maybe the worst is behind us. At least for northeast St. Petersburg it may be.