Saturday’s editorial looks for good economic omens heading
into the second May since
The last few weeks have brought a welcome return of warm weather and a return of our tourists, after the cold weather had seemingly blown them all away. Three weeks more will bring May, and with it, another chance to evaluate the Grand Strand’s fundamentally reshaped economic landscape.
From a national standpoint, it’s tough to say whether things are truly better or worse. In the spring of 2009, most economic indicators were rushing downward. Unemployment, always a lagging indicator, would not bottom out near 10 percent until the late summer, but jobs were being lost left and right with no end apparent.
This year, most of the same underlying indicators are have returned to positives: the stock market has rebounded from its March 2009 low of 6,600 to nearly 11,000, housing prices are rising, gross domestic product is climbing and jobs are being added - even though unemployment, still lagging, remains about where it fell last August.
So, on a national level, perhaps the bleeding has stopped, though the wound is now deeper and more painful than it was a year ago. Is the same true locally? After all, May for years has been synonymous with motorcycles, and they were traumatically driven away last year. What will 2010 bring?
This spring, we’re spending millions more than we did last year advertising the Grand Strand in the markets we are most likely to draw from (though many residents reasonably resent the burden of paying increased sales taxes for those ads all winter). The month of May now features four new weekend festivals - an arts festival that pairs current movie stars with headliner and absolute blues legend Buddy Guy; a beach music festival, a Christian music festival and a Memorial Day weekend festival with a performance by American Idol winner Jordin Sparks - all but one of which are free. None will replace a motorcycle rally on its own, or even in aggregate, but at least the concerts represent four new offerings (especially as spur-of-the-moment trips that seem to be more common in our new economy) for distinct fan groups who likely weren’t here last May.
Rally organizers say they expect
even fewer motorcyclists than came last year, which will be a further
disappointment to the areas outside
We can hope. Looking toward this May, there are at least reasons to hope, where last year there were none. Last April, we were all waiting to see how bad it was, and it was undeniably awful. This year, let’s take some solace in the fact that we’re at least waiting to see, instead, if things are any better.