That said, the perception — and the reality — remain that the current president’s policies are hindering, not helping the economic recovery.
Yes, “The Great Recession” technically ended in the summer of 2009, but the pace of the recovery since then has been glacial, to put it mildly. And in many ways, it still “feels” like we are stuck in a recession.
“In July, we had a fourth birthday for this economic recovery,” Mercer University economics professor Dr. Roger Tutterow of Cobb noted at the outset of a symposium at this week’s First Monday Breakfast sponsored by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. “This recovery is now 49 months old. … Still, what I hear when I see business leaders around the state: ‘When do things get normal?’”
Cobb’s unemployment rate (8 percent) is down about a half-percentage point from last summer, but is now on the rise once again and at a six-month peak.
Uncertainty about the impact of ObamaCare and its thousands of pages of new rules and regulations and penalties is to blame for part of the stagnation, several speakers at the event suggested.
“There’s still so much uncertainty in Washington, D.C., with (ObamaCare) and how that’s going to be implemented, how much that’s going to cost and how that’s going to affect my business that people are just still scared in a lot of ways to make investments and hire people,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, whose office is in charge of tracking new business incorporations as well as professional licensures. “I think that may be part of what’s holding us back on employment.”
State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler added that he thinks many business owners are “sitting on their money” waiting to see the impact of the new law.
Such comments were echoed by John Loud, owner of LOUD Security Systems in Kennesaw, who said he’s one of those hesitating to invest or hire because of the law.
“I have 47 employees right now and I don’t know how to slow it down,” he said. “I’ve been hiring like crazy, but I agree with a lot of people that have been sitting on hold because we don’t know how impactful the health care law will be.”
And Gary Bottoms, president of The Bottoms Group insurance Company in Marietta, said that the new law has generated work for him from clients wary of the law’s impact, but said the overall feeling the marketplace is one of caution.
“There’s just a feeling of, ‘Let’s be conservative,’” he said. “And they question whether or not to hire somebody.”
Consider such comments a snapshot of sentiment from business leaders in the heart of one of the most dynamic communities in the Southeast. It’s probably fair to say that those leaders have not lost hope, but neither are they over-optimistic about where the Obama economy is headed.