With information from the Institute of Supply Management saying manufacturing has grown for the first time since January 2008, many experts are suggesting that the worst recession since the Great Depression is coming to a close. What do local entrepreneurs and financial experts think?
Frank Alegre - Operator of Frank C. Alegre Trucking:
"It's not over. We went about this whole thing (stimulus package) the wrong way. We gave money to bail out banks. Does that create jobs? We need to invest in highways, dams and our infrastructure. That puts contractors and laborers back to work. California is the worst. If I could conduct my business out of state, I would. I've never seen it this bad in 47 years; there is no work. It may be getting better in the nation, but not California. We're in a bad situation. People need to vote for candidates who say things they don't want to hear."
Pat Patrick - President, CEO of Lodi Chamber of Commerce:
"Everybody's business is down. The best is down 11 percent while the worst is down 60 percent. Business is down but holding steady. If it doesn't get worse, we will start to pull out. There are three pieces of legislation that, if passed as they are right now, will negatively affect the future of the economy. First is health care. Businesses will pay a tremendous burden. Second is the Cap and Trade. Small businesses would shoulder the financial burden. Third is the card check bill that will make it easier to organize labor unions. If passed, these three bills would put a lot of small businesses out of business. The only way out of this is to create revenue, not add taxes or costs."
Larry Underhill - Former President, Lodi Association of Realtors:
"We're still in the trenches here. Everyone has a personal recession experience. I'm helping some people take advantage of the best buyer's market, and I'm helping others sell their homes under unfortunate circumstances. The media is giving us permission to hope. The economy depends on people's attitudes. We're on our way back from the bottom. It's not like flipping a switch. It's painful, but it's going to be healthy in the long-term. People are rethinking their values. They are developing mental toughness, increasing their faith and have reevaluated what matters."
Steven Haley - Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Farmers and Merchants Bank:
"Saying the recession is over would be premature. Unemployment is still high and it needs to stabilize, at the very least. The stock market is the leading indicator of our economy and it got ahead of itself. We gotta get people back to work. We are fortunate in the Central Valley that we have agriculture to support us. We remain hopeful. Ultimately, the economic structure of the Northern Central Valley is as good a place to be as anywhere in the state."
Jennifer Nesbit - Owner, City Girl Boutique:
"Globally, I don't think it's over. Our business has stayed pretty consistent. My customers are generally 20 to 30 years old and haven't been affected by the recession. People are still buying things for themselves. The store is holding its own very well."
Jamie Watts - Executive Director, Downtown Lodi Business Partnership:
"The worst is over, but we're not out of it. Things are looking up. I've seen a lot of businesses pulling together and combining resources. People are getting creative. Four winetasting rooms in Lodi are cross-promoting and cross-marketing and trying to network. Everyone is moving forward."
Jeff Michael - Director of Business Forecast at the University of the Pacific:
"It's coming to an end. I'm not willing to say it's over, but indicators on the national level are showing signs of bottoming out. There are still mixed signals. Employment and labor numbers continue to get worse and the positive signs are pretty weak. The Dow sometimes gets ahead of itself. It will get back above 10,000 and then it will go down. It's gonna be a long, long recovery. Foreclosures aren't over by a long shot. It's gonna be a long, slow trudge. But we will get out of it."