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Editorial: Sputtering along

Last week, the Review-Journal shared the story of Jannicke Ramso, a local interior designer who launched her own firm last June. Ms. Ramso wanted to spend more time with her kids, and says the positive signs she saw from the economy encouraged her to take the leap.

It’s wonderful to see that the entrepreneurial instinct remains alive and well. But perhaps Ms. Ramso and hundreds of others with big dreams could have struck out long ago had President Obama not pushed a stifling regulatory and economic agenda that has produced the weakest recovery in generations.

Economists pay special attention to small businesses because they create a significant number of jobs — including here in Nevada. According to the state Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation, companies with fewer than 100 employees are responsible for 44 percent of the state’s 1.34 million jobs, and 98 percent of its 75,000 work sites. Numbers from the agency show that employment in companies with fewer than 100 workers reached a new record in the third quarter, up 1.2 percent from the prior, pre-recession high reached in 2007.

So it’s taken nine years to get back where we left off.

During his final State of the Union address in January, President Obama declared that the United States has “recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations,” and “anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

Really? While there are certainly some encouraging signs, as Ms. Ramso recognized, let’s remember that we’re almost a decade removed from the onset of the Great Recession. And while small business employment is up and the overall unemployment rate is down, the labor-force participation rate is at its lowest point in 40 years, real median household income is on the decline, and the number of Americans in poverty and on food stamps is on the rise.

Meanwhile, real GDP has grown at an annual rate of 2.1 percent in the years since the recession ended. That pales in comparison to other recoveries since 1960, which averaged 3.9 percent annual growth.

It wasn’t surprising, then, to see a January report from the National Association of Counties revealing that 93 percent of U.S. counties — including Clark — have yet to fully recover from the recession.

Any positive economic news is welcome, so growth in the state’s small-business sector bodes well for Nevada. But challenges remain — and no matter how President Obama spins it, “feeble recovery” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “real economic growth.”

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