Will the real economic recovery please stand up?

Several months have passed since the word “recovery” was first uttered in reference to the current economic state. At first no one seemed to be buying it, or buying anything else, for that matter. Then phrases like “double-dip” began to surface more often than Seinfeld reruns. Fast forward through the holidays and the predictable January hangover.

Now that Q1 has passed the midway point, has there been a shift in the glass-half-empty versus half-full conundrum? Have people (business leaders and consumers) simply decided that enough is enough? There seems to be growing optimism related to employment and long-term economic health.

Lets look beyond the recent break in the weather for reasons for this apparent new-found positive outlook.

Several indicators are moving in the right direction

We borrowed a Mar. 8 chart from Money-Rates.com to show how the numbers tend to be inching toward growth. And the new home starts numbers just released are even better. Is it enough to constitute economic elation? Certainly not, but it is good news.

Who cares about the indicators?

At least in part because employment lags behind overall economic growth, consumers are not letting the statistics drive their purchase decisions. What matters to people is the tangible — “do I have a paycheck or not?” The result is a consumer base that is still highly cautious about their spending.

Companies are succeeding right here.

Specifically in Winston-Salem and the surrounding Piedmont Triad region, there are many examples that could be used to cite an economy on the rise. We’ve gone on about Cat (with good reason) but other successes may be even more convincing (with a congrats to Jeff Garstka, former-WSBI VP, and his recent success expanding Lowe’s Companies data center operations in Wilkes County).

Fundamentals are in. Aren’t they?

Is the long road to recovery paved with solid fundamentals? Are companies returning to long-term profitability rather than short-term gains that undermine core value? Are consumers actually choosing to save instead of spending what they don’t have? Do they have a choice?

Okay. That last one was more of a question. What do you think? Is there reason to be cautiously optimistic?