The past few years have been hard on the green industry. With the foreclosure and unemployment rates skyrocketing, and the housing market plummeting, the nation has seen one of the worst financial crises of all time. For this industry, that meant that some of your clients were scaling back with their landscaping projects, which was detrimental to landscape contractors. Maintenance and lawn care was where it was at for most companies, which many credit with keeping them in business.
Thankfully, 2010 started showing some signs of improvement, with companies hiring again, the unemployment rate starting to go down (slightly) and consumer spending starting to rise (again, slightly). Even though these steps were just small, it did give some small businesses the boost they needed.
So, what’s in store for 2011? With economic indicators all over the chart, it’s hard to say where the year will take us. The good news is that there were people—manufacturers, lawn care companies, landscapers, etc.—who had a pretty good year in 2010, and are very positive about what will happen in 2011. And, economists are seeing signs that economic recovery in 2011 will gain strength. Many forecasters are putting economic growth around 3 percent for the year, although the housing market and the job market are still expected to be weak. With the unemployment rate remaining just under 10 percent, we have a long way to go to get back to normal, but it looks like we’re headed in the right direction, and that is some good news considering where we’ve come from. Just today (late December), applications for new unemployment benefits have dropped sharply to the lowest point in nearly two years, down 34,000 to 388,000. The number of applications for unemployment peaked in March 2009, numbering 651,000. And the Dow has hit its highest level in years.
Take a look at our Green Industry Outlook on page A12 to see what Charlie Hall, a top horticultural economist from Texas A&M University, predicts will happen for the green industry this year. Then, check out what our advertising partners have to say on page A16. These manufacturers are looking forward to a positive year and are coming up with innovative new products and services to help you make the most of the new year.
Amy K. Hill