Not since the year began in 2005 has the overall Small Business Index, reported by Zions Bank, risen.
In every sequential year and over the last four quarters of 2008, the index fell from 122.1 (2005’s reported index) to 65.5 (January’s reported index).
For the month of February, the index rose to 68, giving new hope to small businesses who were possibly on the verge of folding.
“The higher index number is associated with more favorable business conditions for small businesses,” said Jeff Thredgold, a national economist who works with Zions Bank. “It also offers what other small business owners think of the economy around them.”
Thredgold stated Davis County’s unemployment rate is helping, as they have the lowest percentage of unemployed workers compared to other counties in Utah.
“Weber County’s unemployment is at 5.1 percent,” said Thredgold. “Salt Lake County is at 3.8 percent and Washington County is at 6 percent.
“Davis County is only at 3.8 percent, so it poses well for the city’s involved.”
Utah and Cache County reported at 2.0 and 2.8 percent respectively.
Another key factor in the rising index number is the total amount of consumer spending that had been plaguing some local businesses.
And some are thriving from it. Thanks in part to consumers “shopping smarter,” small businesses are starting to stay together on a daily basis.
“I’ve been pretty busy the last few months,” said Gwen Nygaard, a local shop owner who sells small gift items in Syracuse. “My store is more novelty type so it’s difficult to gauge a good month from a bad one, but people have been coming in and purchasing things for their little kids and grand-kids.”
Other store owners agree, stating they had been busy over at least the last month, if not further.
Thredgold assesses, however, that despite this glimmer of good news, the state of Utah is still hitting a downward trend in other areas.
“Unemployment is still the lowest in the nation,” he said. “But at 4.6 percent and still rising, the job market is stretching pretty thin.”
Most small business owners aren’t threatened. Nygaard said she had been squeezing every penny she could to stay afloat for awhile, despite the uniqueness of her store.
“You have to plan for these types of things,” she said. “Planning for the rough patches will help you get through them and stay ahead when the economy starts to bounce back.
“No one will know when (a recovery will) happen, but planning for it will certainly help you stay in business.”
The small business index is released by Zions Bank every quarter. For more information or to view the indexes available, visit their website at www.zionsbank.com.