America’s economic recovery lies in the middle market

bonneytom5x5Thomas Bonney is founder and managing director of CMF Associates, a financial consulting, staffing and recruiting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, that serves private equity, middle-market and small-cap public companies nationally. The views expressed are his own.

In his 1988 Republican National Convention acceptance speech, George Bush championed the tradition of the American community, describing it as “a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”

More than 20 years later, this tradition still forms the core of our country’s strength – particularly the “thousand points of light” that comprise our medium-sized, family- and private-equity owned business community. I believe it is this community that will ultimately drive the tailwind of economic recovery and growth.

The economic healing power of these businesses is clear. According to the Small Business Administration, more than 6.7 million of the 27.2 million existing businesses in 2007 were small businesses with less than 500 paid employees. Just one hire by each of these firms would more than replenish the 6.46 million jobs lost since the recession began in December 2007 through June 2009.

Smaller companies continue to forge the strongest track record of job protection. The Labor Department’s Quarterly Business Employment data for Q4 2008 shows that, relative to the size of private sector employment, job losses at large companies were approximately one-third larger than losses in the middle market. Mid-sized companies with 999 employees or less accounted for 10.9% of job losses, while larger companies with 1000+ employees were responsible for 20.7% of job losses.

from Trading Places:

Unemployment jumps, but is the economy finding its floor?

Markets might have rallied on relief that the jobs data this morning wasn't worse than expected, but there's no getting away from the fact that an 8.5 percent unemployment rate is an ugly number. The March jobs figures showed U.S. employers slashed 663,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate was the highest since 1983. Here is some reaction from the market:

"It's telling you we're in a deep recession and it's still going to be a while to get out of it, especially on the employment side of things. But you have to keep in mind that this is a lagging indicator, we're going to get bad employment numbers, along with the employment rate, even if the economy is starting to turn."

"The report does not contradict the growing notion that the economy is finding a bottom. Employment will not turn on a dime and certainly there's no sign of strength, but at least it's not getting worse and worse and worse."