A Post-it recovery?

The big news today is that the nation’s gross domestic product jumped during the three months ending in September. But it’s a small story we picked up from a North Mankato printer that has us thinking the recovery might be real.

“The industry I am in is the first to get hurt and the first to recover,” Gerald Myking, a source in MPR’s Public Insight Network,told us recently. “For about 7 1/2 months we were only working 32 hours per week. The last six to seven weeks we have been working more than 40.”

Myking, 59, is a commercial printer who says his shop’s primary business is producing Post-it Notes for 3M. His work tends to take an early hit in a downturn — businesses start to cut advertising budgets when things first start getting tight.

“We are actually hiring people now,” he says. “Although the retail pads have only picked-up slightly, the custom note pads used for advertising has increased substantially.”

The large established business’ are firming up their positions in the market place. The other survivors of this recession have now started advertising to increase their share.

The other side of our business, making labels for several different products, has also come back indicating some minor improvement in retail sales. I believe the recovery is sustainable due to business confidence. I believe consumer confidence is lagging which is why I think the recovery will be slow.

The Post-It is probably the best known product among 3M’s Consumer and Office segment, which took a bit hit in the recession’s depths. 3M’s year-end report notes that in the last quarter of 2008, “the combination of massive office worker layoffs, coupled with across-the-board declines in office retail foot traffic, had a dramatic and negative impact on sales.”

Myking says his shop was looking at a loss for the year and now the numbers project a profit. Despite that, he not convinced the economy will roar back.

“I don’t believe the recovery will be recognized until the second quarter of next year,” he adds. “This is one of the worst recessions I have experienced in a very long time. Due to the severity of it and it’s fragile state I am still wary.”

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“I’ll believe the recession’s over…” or “I’m feeling a recovery now because…”

Finish one of those sentences and help us understand where the economy’s headed.

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