Looking forward to 2011, I could write about resolutions, but it would be a waste of space. I'm supposed to be 10 pounds lighter, fluent in Spanish, capable of playing a guitar, and the author of a screenplay—if I had completed New Year's resolutions of the past four years. In actuality, I'm 5 pounds heavier than a year ago; still monolingual; unable to even recognize an out-of-tune guitar; and the author behind a lightly read, work-related blog. I'm not much for resolutions.
Instead, let's look at economic predictions for 2011. They are much more entertaining than other people's resolutions and are cause for optimism in the new year.
Chris Kuehl, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association's economic analyst suggested that U.S. GDP growth in 2011 will be between 2.6 percent and 3.2 percent. He added that he sees little chance for a recessionary dip in the new year, avoiding the dreaded double dip that some people still fear.
"For manufacturers, much will depend on what sector they serve," he said. "For example, housing and commercial construction will remain weak, and many states are in a severe budget crisis. This does not bode well for those who sell to industries supported by construction.
"However, the fact that oil prices are rising and that economic growth is solid in the states that are engaged in the energy field make for good news to manufacturers that sell to the energy community," he said.
For a closer look at the energy and construction markets, check out this story from Metal Center News. It's a nice summary of expected market conditions for the metals sector.
Others share Kuehl's less-than-robust prediction for economic growth in the new year. The latest Blue Chip Economic Indicators report, prepared with input from about 50 economists, revealed that the consensus forecast for real GDP growth in 2011 to be 2.5 percent, a figure that was trimmed back recently following another quarter of lower-than-expected consumer spending and business investment. Goldman Sachs forecast a growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2011 and 3.6 percent in 2012.
In the first three quarters of this year, the U.S. GDP grew 2.63 percent.
Fabricators have a cautious optimism for the new year. Senior Editor Tim Heston found that most he spoke with expected to grow their businesses in 2011. The growth isn't expect to be huge, but the companies appear to be on their way to matching the profit levels of 2007.
This is actually great news in the face of unemployment rates that refuse to drop and the financial mess plaguing several state governments. In fact, some manufacturers sound downright giddy about single-digit percentage improvements in business. After having lived through 2009, any growth is good news.
Perhaps the slow climb from the depths of the Great Recession will lead to a long period of better economic performance. I resolve to carry that hope all the way through 2011. I think I can honor that commitment.