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Fall outlook turns bleaker for small businesses

So let’s look at the current economy.  

Small-business confidence fell in August to its lowest level since March, with 39% of owners expecting U.S. economic conditions to improve over the next year, down from half in July and two-thirds in March, according to a survey of more than 560 small businesses for The Wall Street Journal by Vistage Worldwide Inc.  The coverage from the Journal also cites 9% lower restaurant bookings from 2019 levels last week (after surpassing 2019 levels in June), as well as visits to grocery stores, gas stations, gyms, restaurants, and retail stores starting to drop in late July after also surpassing 2019 level earlier in the summer.  

The share of employed adults who are vacationing typically peaks in July at around 3%, notes Nick Bunker, an economist at the jobs site Indeed. And while the 2021 rate is higher than that in 2020, it’s still well below normal, at under 2%.  Underusing time off is exacerbating burnout across the U.S. workforce. 52% of workers said they’re experiencing burnout in 2021, per a recent Indeed survey.  All that from Axios.

And AT&T has joined the list of companies requiring a COVID-19 vaccine.  This for management employees entering a work location. 

Why do we care?

No comfort in getting a prediction right here – the economy is going to be rougher before it’s recovered.     I’m seeing too many pieces of what I term optimism porn – a report that says how great the market is for IT services.   

Demand is most certainly going to be high for IT services.  That said, the labor market is tight, making hiring harder, and likely constraining growth for end customers.     Those employees are more stressed out.      Sections of the economy that rely on physical contact are going to be impacted too.

Which leads back to why we care.   Blindly assuming everything is going to be great is a poorly selected plan. Instead, plan for continued bumps, and be pleasantly surprised if they aren’t hit.    Because more likely, they’ll be hit.