Year in Review - Some Positive Trends

Searching for some good news about the U.S. and local economy? Then here are five positive trends from 2010 that indicate the economy is slowly improving as compared to a year ago.

Consumers are more confident about the future. The index of consumer sentiment rose in December, 2010 to 74.5 from 72.5 a year ago, according to the Thompson Reuters/University Michigan.  The index, measured monthly, is meant to gauge the attitude and expectations of consumers about the U. S. economic outlook.  The index is a component of the Conference Board Leading Economic Index?; a forward looking predicator about how the economy will do in the future.

Stock market ends higher.  The S&P 500 index closed a year ago at 1,115.10 on December 31, 2009 and closed 12.86 percent higher at 1,257.64 on December 31, 2010.  The biggest sector gainers in the index were consumer discretionary, industrials, and materials industries.  The S&P 500 index includes 500 of the largest companies in the U.S. equities market, which accounts for approximately 75 percent of the total U. S. equities according to Standards and Poors Fact Sheet at

Unemployment declined in one of three counties in Southern Maryland.  The unemployment rate declined in Calvert County to 5.7 percent as of November, 2010 from 5.8 percent a year ago, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The unemployment is reported as a percentage of the labor work force and is not seasonally adjusted.   St. Mary’s County unemployment rate increased to 6.0 percent from 5.8 percent and Charles County unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.9 percent for the same period.

Revolving debt declined.  Consumers reduced credit cards balances and other revolving debt in 2010.  Total U.S. consumer revolving debt declined 6.25 percent year- over-year to 796.5 billion in the month of November, 2010, according to the Federal Reserve Board.  However, non-revolving credit debt increased 4.25 percent during the same period.

Sales are up.  Consumers have loosened up their purse strings after retreating during the deep recession that began in December, 2007.  Advanced monthly retail sales for November, 2010 increased 8.1 percent year-over-year and other motor vehicle dealer sales increased 12.8 percent year-over year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Other U.S. leading economic indicators have yet to show positive trends, including new home sales, housing starts, and housing permits.  They all reported year-over-year declines in the month of November, 2010. 

Now that 2010 is behind us, all eyes look ahead toward this year for a recovery in the housing market and additional positive economic trends.

Christine Parker, CFP®

Personal finance expert for women, Christine Parker, CFP® is president of Parker Financial, LLC, a registered investment advisory firm in the state of Maryland.  The information contained herein should not be viewed as Parker Financial, LLC providing investment, tax or legal advice.  Before implementing any strategy, please consult your accountant, legal counsel and financial planner.  For more information, call toll-free 866-681.PLAN (7526) or visit http:

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