Too much bad news? Here's the 'Happy Talk'

Vectra Bank’s corporate economist Jeff Thredgold has released his semi-annual update of “Happy Talk.”

If the name isn’t enough, it’s basically a listing of what’s “good” economically – as opposed to the “bad” news that normally gets the biggest play by many media sources.

Here are some snippets:

  • U.S. economic growth has been rock-solid. The economy has grown at an inflation-adjusted annual rate of at least 3 percent for nine consecutive quarters, the longest such streak since the mid-1980s.
  • The average American home appreciated 13.6 percent during the 12 months ended June 30, the largest rise on record.
  • For every dollar of U.S. economic output generated today, we burn less than half as much oil as 30 years ago.
  • Donations to U.S. charities set an all-time high in 2004, with a total of $248.5 billion donated by individuals, foundations and corporations. Individuals donated roughly $188 billion last year.
  • Today’s U.S. jobless rate of 5 percent is lower than the averages during the ’70s, the ’80s and the ’90s. U.S. job creation during 2004 was the strongest of the past five years.
  • American household net worth as of year-end 2004 exceeded $48.5 trillion, the highest ever. Net worth – the difference between assets and liabilities – rose 9.3 percent versus a year earlier. Higher home and stock prices led the way.
  • Flexible work schedules are now the norm for 43 percent of workers, up from 29 percent in 1992 and 13 percent in 1985. This allows greater flexibility for more people, especially those with children.
  • Women now make up 15.7 percent of the top-ranking executives at America’s largest companies, versus 12.5 percent in 2000 and 8.7 percent in 1995.
  • Productivity of the average American worker rose an average of 3.7 percent annually during each of the past three years, the largest gains in 51 years. Rising productivity is a long-term key to higher standards of living.
  • During the five-year period 1997-2002, business start-ups by women were twice the rate of all start-ups, reaching 6.5 million businesses. Black-owned businesses rose by 45 percent, while Hispanic-owned businesses grew 31 percent.

Spending lots of time online

Ever wonder why it seems like you just can’t get everything done in an eight-hour work day?

It might be because you’re spending almost one of those hours surfing the Internet.

Executives polled by Accountemps said they think employees spend 56 minutes a day on non-work-related e-mail, instant messaging and Web surfing.

And if you think that no one is watching, you might want to reconsider.

Sixty-four percent of the survey respondents said that their organizations monitor employee Internet activity at least somewhat closely. Included in that number is the 23 percent who said that their firms monitor Internet activity very closely.

Of course the sweetest places to work would be the 4 percent that don’t monitor at all or in a department headed by the 2 percent of executives who said they didn’t know if Internet activity was monitored.

Mike Boyd is editor of the Colorado Springs Business Journal. He can be reached at or 329-5206.