Friday, August 22, 2008

For Marketers, What Recession? Part 2

As an update to the What Recession? post here in May, here are the latest figures. U.S. GDP grew 1.9% in the second quarter, so once again, we are not technically in a recession. On the other hand, the overall unemployment rate spiked upward to 5.7%; not catastrophic, but clearly disturbing.

Still, these two numbers taken together may signal a positive trend. Second quarter GDP growth increased over the first quarter, which had in turn increased over the fourth quarter of 2007. And the last time the unemployment rate was this high was...March, 2004—well after the end of the last recession. In other words, the unemployment rate tends to be a lagging indicator. The fact that the jobless rate is now at a peak, while GDP growth is accelerating, may signal the end of a relatively modest recession. Of course, the policy choices of the new administration after November could swing things in either direction.

But for marketers, at least one measure—the MarketingSherpa Career Classifieds—shows no sign of a downturn. Here are the updated weekly figures over the last 90 days:

As pointed out in the May post, if we're really in a recession, the blue line in the graph above should be plunging "while the purple line shoots skyward—which is exactly what happened back in 2000. That clearly isn't happening today."

Again, it's only one indicator, and the current sunny outlook for marketers could cloud up in a hurry if the Fed gets overzealous in fighting inflation, or taxes are increased, or any of a number of other things happen. But the fact that that marketers, usually among the first crewmembers to be thrown overboard in an economic tempest, apparently aren't getting tossed to the sharks in droves is still news to be celebrated.


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