Business holiday wishes more likely to come true

What do you want for Christmas?

If you’re a business owner or manager, chances are good the list includes increased sales and higher profits. More efficient operations at a lower cost would be nice as well. Don’t forget to include a healthy, happy and productive staff. Most business owners and managers also would be thrilled about what they don’t get if that included excessive regulations, complicated taxes and increases in health insurance premiums.

There are no guarantees about what ultimately will end up under the proverbial Christmas tree. But the prospects for 2018 are at least encouraging, certainly more now than in the recent past. Consider the implications of the latest forecasts, indexes and indicators.

According to the latest results of an annual forecast compiled at the University of Colorado at Boulder, the outlook is “trending positive” for Mesa County with a declining unemployment rate, strengthening real estate market and a more diversified economy. Other factors also bode well, including improvement in the energy and tourism sectors and the likelihood some of the population growth in Colorado will spread to the Western Slope and Grand Valley.

Meanwhile, the National Federation of Independent Business reported that its Small Business Optimism Index has climbed to the second-highest reading in the 44-year history of the monthly measure. The NFIB bases the index on the results of monthly surveys of members of the small business advocacy group, most of them small business owners. The latest results reflect more upbeat expectations for improving economic conditions and sales.

The latest Consumer Confidence Index, a far broader measure based on monthly surveys of U.S. households, remains at its highest level in 17 years on more optimistic assessments of business and labor conditions. Given that consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the country, that’s a good sign.

Back in the Grand Valley, key indicators signal an improving economy.  Sales tax collections, a key measure of sales, continue to trend up. Increasing sales activity made 2017 the best year for the real estate market in Mesa County since before the recession.

New employment estimates for Mesa County are scheduled to come out Dec. 22. But the latest available numbers pegged the seasonally unadjusted unemployment rate in Mesa County at 3.4 percent in October. While that’s
four-tenths of a point higher than September, it’s also eight-tenths of a power lower than a year ago and close to the lowest level in more than a decade.

Even as local economic indicators improve and are expected to continue to do so, work goes on to expand existing businesses and bring in new businesses.

As for those things business owners and managers would rather not receive — government fruitcake, if you will — the new presidential administration has at least reversed the default position on regulation. Less might be more in terms of promoting business and the economy. It’s still all politics all the time, of course. But there’s at least a different perspective.

Here’s hoping your holiday wishes — professional and personal — are fulfilled. In the words of Clement C. Moore, happy Christmas to all. In the words of Charles Dickens, God bless us, every one.