The economy: What if this is as good as it gets?

Judging from the abandoned factories that make up this country’s urban landscape, Faribault Woolen Mill Co. in Faribault, Minn., should’ve been a goner when it shut down in 2009 and 2010 and laid off all of its workers.

It’s staged a remarkable comeback, however, as documented today in the New York Times.

All the workers are back and 30 new positions have been added.

Good times, right?

Faribault mirrors the nation’s economy. Things look better than they were, but everyone’s worried about what’s ahead.

“More people are finding jobs, but nobody feels optimistic about their income prospects,” Michael Gapen, chief United States economist at Barclays, tells the Times. “That’s likely why it doesn’t feel like the economy has really recovered even though the statistics say it has.”

“You have to be aware that there are ups and downs,” said Dennis Melchert, 60, who has worked at the mill for more than 40 years and is now vice president for product development and research. “The worst part of what we went through was when the company was unable to pay its bills. Everything in textiles is based on trust.”

“The overall economy is picking up,” Mr. Melchert added. “But we’re more grounded in our decision making, and we’re not growing whole-hog. The biggest challenge is that you should grow slowly and not go kaboom.”

Related: How Faribault Woolen Mills revived a 150-year-old brand (Twin Cities Business Magazine)

  • MrE85

    Perhaps what Roosevelt said still applies today. All we have to fear is fear itself.

    • Except that Roosevelt is wrong. Fear isn’t what needs to be feared. Losing a job is. It’s real. It’s not made up.

      • MrE85

        I’ve lost jobs before, and you’re right, it is terrifying. I think that anyone working in manufacturing — or any other job — goes to work knowing that your job may disappear one day, through no fault of your own. It’s unsettling, but the experience of having gone through a periods of unemployment and finding work has also made me stronger and a little less afraid of the future. We can’t change global economics, but we can change our attitude about work. The old “job for life” model is likely gone for good. How we deal with this reality is up to us.

        • Now you’re sounding like Mac Hammond.

          • MrE85


  • Jack Ungerleider

    We have the recovery that those that run the economy want us to have.

    IT is related to the phenomenon of “downsizing” that dates back to the 1980s. CEOs of large companies found out that they could boost stock prices by slashing the work force. Add to that automation and you have an increased supply of labor which depresses the wage rates and makes people expendable because they can be easily replaced. So you have a stagnant income environment and increasing cost of living. Now people are worried about losing their jobs because they have to live “closer to the edge”. This drives the political process and creates the stalemates around issues related to the tax code and immigration. The reason an immigration reform bill won’t pass is those that cry for strengthening the borders have a large constituency that benefits from a more open one. They won’t pass a “guest worker” bill because that would legitimize the migrant workforce and raise their wages because they are now “out in the open”. I could whine about how the banking system was “murdered” to put “stupid money” in the markets but I don’t have time right now. 😉

  • Jim G

    Someone once said that the poor will always be with us, but we ignore the truth that it is a very real possibility that a higher percentage of us will constitute an ever growing and permanent corp of unneeded and unwanted workers. At some point in our lives, we will be poor. That is the challenge that faces our economy. Collectively, we are not good at dealing with inequity. We are good at blaming the poor for their plight, but unwilling to reform our economic system.

  • Independent1776

    Im just waiting till after the 2016 election to make any major purchase. We’ve been not going out, eating at home, taking stay-cations, driving the same car.