The UK and Europe has been going through a similar slump, particularly in the IT sector where I work.
As a freelance consultant I pay quite close attention to the state of the economy. My take on the current state is that things are improving, but they’re a long way from good still.
The recovery of stock prices is visible in the rise of the FTSE100, DJIA and NASDAQ indexes. The main indexes don’t tell the whole story, however, and looking at the broader FTSE250 index the price recovery looks even more solid. Make of this what you will.
The markets remain volatile at the moment, particularly around the turn of each quarter, as brokers scramble to take profits - they’re hurting bad from the last three years and need to make some money. This is likely to continue for some time and, in my opinion, is what tends to make the recovery look unstable since the indexes are up and down all over the place. Look at the trends over six months or more and it’s fairly clear though.
In just the last few weeks I’ve seen the freelance/contract market begin to pick up. This is traditionally the first sign of an employment recovery as businesses are still nervous about investing in permanent staff. Permanent employment figures are still in the doldrums at the bottom of the curve, but I would expect to see this starting to turn in the new year.
So, I would agree that the economies are recovering, but caution that recoveries don’t happen overnight. For what comfort I can take from it, I at least think we’re on the way out now rather than on the way further in.