FINANCIAL FOCUS: First, a positive word on the economy
By Robert L. Nistendirk Welcome to my new column. The focus of this column will be to discuss financial and business concepts that may be of assistance to the readers of The West Virginia Record. However, I wanted to begin with some positive thoughts about our nation's economic future. I have always been in awe of our country's economy. And in the midst of our current woes, I believe we all need to reflect on the long-term strength of the United States' economic success as we weather this latest storm. One of the things I have focused on over the years is our economy's ability to create quality jobs for millions of people in spite of the odds. I have outlined some of the obstacles to creating enough jobs to meet demand over the last century or so: Global Competition -- The severe imbalance of wage levels around the world presents an unbelievable challenge to the industrialized nations. Combine this wage inequity with the relatively low cost of transportation and instantaneous communications that now exist, and it is even more amazing that more jobs haven't been exported from the U.S. Women in the Work Force -- Prior to World War II, women in the work force was relatively rare. Today, it is rare that women have the inclination, or luxury, to NOT have a job. And considering that women make up 50 percent of the population, the economy's ability to absorb them into the work force over the past 40 to 50 years is even more amazing. Industrialization -- In the first half of the last century, mechanization proved to be a double-edged sword. The industrial revolution provided cheaper goods and products to everyone, but often at the expense of jobs. Coal mining, for example, was an industry that erased thousands of jobs due to mechanization. Yet, these jobs were eventually replaced by a more robust economy. Technology -- The late 20th century version of the industrial revolution has been technological advances. Like mechanization, technology has helped eliminate countless jobs through improved efficiencies. Remember the "typing pool?" Technology has also contributed to a communications explosion that allows companies to export jobs to other countries more readily. Still, our unemployment rate is manageable. Immigration -- The United States has been a haven for immigrants since before our republic was born. The recent wave of legal and illegal immigrants is yet another testament to our nation's economic strength and ability to absorb large numbers of individuals into our work force. Baby Boomers -- The population bubble presented by the baby boom generation did not cause significant problems to our economy when these individuals entered the work force. The largest generation of new workers were readily brought into the work force. Of course there have been other obstacles to our economy in creating enough jobs to sustain our country's status as the premier economic power in the world. However, this ability to provide a strong level of employment has been a core component of our economic strength. So, let's take a minute to celebrate at least one positive aspect of our economy. Further, let's hope our government continues to provide enlightened support for other aspects of our economy that will continue to allow businesses to create quality jobs for our citizens. Nistendirk is a partner at Woomer, Nistendirk & Associates, a CPA firm located in Charleston. He has extensive experience in tax accounting, strategic planning and financial/business consulting. He can be contacted at 304.342.2006.