News Column

Corner Office

June 13, 2011

Jesus Chavarria--Editor and Publisher

Coincidentally, political hijinks will color the arrival of this year's HispanicBusiness 500 presentation. Central to the drama surrounding the 500, as the issue starts reaching CEOs and professionals, are colliding visions of whether to increase the nation's debt ceiling. On the one hand, readers will find in our annual June issue ample indicators 2010 will be remembered as the beginning of the recovery of the HispanicBusiness 500. Last year, the nation's top 500 Hispanic companies in revenue took a pummeling from market conditions created by unforgiving business practices. "We were humbled," said Marion Luna Brem, owner of Love Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Alice and Corpus Christi, Texas. "Those of us who managed not to board up our windows are now operating leaner and meaner."

2009 was tough, no doubt about it, as a mean downward spiral brought about by highly questionable financial practices wreaked havoc on small businesses throughout the country.

After a 16.6 percent decrease in revenue year over year in 2009, the HB500 increased revenues in 2010 by 5.7 percent. Industry sectors by and large enjoyed a brighter year, with eight of the nine sectors achieving increased sales. Only the transportation sector posted negative revenues, with a downward tick of 4 percent. Energy moved from a loss of 42 percent in 2009 to a gain of 36 percent in 2010, a movement of 78 percentage points. Wholesale went from a 16 percent loss to a 51 percent gain. Finance, unsurprisingly, was the only sector posting modest growth, with a rise of 4 percent.

Jobs tell the same story. On June 3, the Department of Labor informed the country the economy had created only 54,000 jobs in the month of May, far below expectation sand recent monthly gains. Consequently, the unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent, up from 9 percent. Hispanic workers have had an especially rough time during the recession. The nation's unemployment rate peaked at 10.1 percent in October 2009, but Hispanic unemployment did not peak till November 2010, at 13.2 percent.

Four job markets were particularly depressed by the recession: construction, manufacturing, financial services, and professional and business services.

So, on the other hand, the recovery remains weak as the 2011 HispanicBusinesss500 reaches our readers. The economy is in a slump. Growth remains out there, somewhat distant from the markets here and now. Moreover, markets are facing strong possibilities of a coming economic storm brought about by the fact the federal government reached its borrowing limit of $14.3 trillion on May l6, and needs authorization by Aug. 8 to raise the debt limit. Actually, the business economy needs authorization on the debt limit to happen long before then. The longer hijinks persist, the more damage is inflicted on consumer confidence and market transactions.

One gets the feeling we've been here before—too many times in recent years.

Source: (c) 2011. All rights reserved.

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