Fast Signs of Slow Economy

Thousands of Illinois residents are looking for jobs as the state’s unemployment rate hovers above 10-percent, more than a half point higher than the national average. In Naperville, business owners admit recovery is slow at best and remain cautious about hiring.

Shane Beard, owner of Naperville business Fastsigns, knows firsthand about the challenging economic climate.

“There were moments I was certainly wondering if I was going to keep the doors open,” said Beard. “But slowly we came out of the recession.”

This year, the company’s seeing a 40% growth in revenue compared to last year, despite having to layoff workers.

Beard’s not the only local business owner forced to lay off workers. Naperville’s unemployment rate hovers around 8%. Even though it’s slightly lower than the state’s 10% average unemployment rate, the local job picture worries many residents.

U.S. Congresswoman Judy Biggert recently discussed those concerns during a visit to the area. She believes the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program was a shot of adrenaline aimed to create jobs but completely missed its mark.

“There’s still money sitting there in the stimulus that hasn’t been used and there just hasn’t been that adrenaline. There hasn’t been those shovel-ready projects that have created jobs.

Biggert’s co-sponsoring a bill to help small businesses hire again. She says small businesses typically make up 70% of jobs around the country. The bill would alleviate many of the burdens government places on small businesses, like fees and taxes. For example, the bill would cut the income tax that small businesses pay by 20%. Biggert hopes the businesses would then keep that cash and put it towards hiring again.

In a recent speech from the oval office, President Obama mentioned other ways to boost the economy, like jumpstarting industries that create jobs and “nurturing the ideas that spring from our entrepreneurs.”

But Shane Beard says it’s ultimately up to each individual business to recovery on its own. “I can’t look at the government to bail me out,” said Beard. “I think we’re all in this together. I think as the water rises, so do all the ships in the community.”

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