That's according to Dr. Arun Raha, Washington state's Chief Economist.
Having heard him speak, I have to agree Dr. Raha is a bit of an unexpected rock star. He put a whole lot of scary charts and graphs up on giant screens around the ballroom as we ate, but nobody lost their lunch. What's more, his agency has one of the most retro-cool websites I've seen in a long time: Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
If you remember when all of the World Wide Web looked like that, raise your hand.
Couple of big-ticket items I took away from Dr. Raha's talk:
- It's almost certain that the recession ended in August, but employment, consumer spending and government revenue collection are all still fragile and will lag behind.
- Unemployment will continue to rise until some time in spring.
- In Washington, government revenues from taxes will improve in 2011 but they won't return to 2008 levels until 2012.
- The global economy is in recovery because of more than 700 stimulus packages passed by governments around the world - the policy response to the Great Recession is working.
- Real recovery from the recession in the US depends on consumer spending. If consumers don't pick up their spending soon, we're likely to see another economic downturn.
That last item is hugely important for those of us in workforce development. Consumers can't spend money they don't have, and if they don't have jobs, they won't have money. Which means that jobs are central to making sure the recovery continues.
Those of us in workforce development know this, and we know what it takes to prepare workers for good jobs. We know where the skills gaps are. We've built excellent training partnerships to prepare people in our communities to meet industry labor needs. We also know where some of the challenges are - whether it's hiring, retention or promotion practices, or the places where the training and education pipeline gets clogged up.
We need to get out there with this message. The recovery requires investment in jobs and job training. It may require government investment in job creation. Perhaps it requires businesses to take job hiring risks. Those investments will pay off with a faster recovery for all.