ICS Magazine

Getting Back to Business

January 10, 2002
A lot has taken shape in our society since we last met. On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the United States, killing thousands of innocent civilians.

The attack, witnessed by the entire nation and the world on live television, prompted a retaliation as the United States began a war on terrorism some four weeks later; an ongoing attack on the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, and the al-Qaida terrorist network of Sept. 11 terrorist attack mastermind Osama bin Laden. The war in that impoverished nation continues as the Taliban appears on the verge of collapsing leaving the search for bin Laden to begin in earnest.

However, another casualty of those heinous terrorist attacks was the American economy, already in the early stages of a recession. The attacks sent consumer confidence spiraling as unemployment rates escalated. In late November the fed announced that the recession actually began months earlier; the attacks merely quickened the end result.

Good news, however, has been taking shape. As I write this in December, the U.S. Commerce Department has announced that personal spending has increased 2.9 percent in October, an all-time high. The increase was led by a record increase in purchases of autos and other durable goods, and follows a large decline of 1.7 percent in September, when the U.S. economy came to a virtual standstill. Americans, stunned following the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, stayed out of the shopping malls.

The Commerce Department also reported that construction-spending projects advanced 1.9 percent in October. That's substantial as it reverses five consecutive monthly declines.

Taken together, the increase in personal spending and the hike in construction project spending spells good news for our industry. The Department of Labor recently reported that claims for jobless benefits fell by 18,000, the fifth weekly decline in six weeks. The total number of laid-off workers getting unemployment benefits plunged by 349,000, the biggest one-week drop since Jan. 1, 1983.

We now have to tell ourselves that it ain't all doom and gloom. The economy will bounce back - is bouncing back - and with it comes the all-important index of economic health, consumer confidence.

Where does this leave us? Right now, we're right where we've put ourselves: Wondering what next. In order to move out of this recessionary period, it's important that we work hard to continue business as usual. That means making purchases from industry manufacturers; purchasing that new truckmount; buying the equipment and chemicals you need to keep your truckmounts rolling, your backpacks sucking and your in-plant carpet cleaning facilities humming.

It also means that manufacturers need to take the bull by the proverbial horns and advertise their goods and services. They need to generate business, encourage the purchase of their durable goods and continue on with the business of keeping our industry - and the American economy - healthy, vibrant and growing.

Now is not the time to hunker down, letting the terrorists of Sept. 11 get their way by changing our way of life, and our way of doing business. It's time to get this economy back on line, and we can help assure that eventuality takes place sooner by doing business. That is the American Way.

President Bush is right: It's time to get back to business.