Have you ever noticed when you learn a new word, or buy a new car, that suddenly you hear or see it everywhere? That’s because you are now looking for the thing which before was invisible to you.
I believe economic news is very much like this.
Recently, during our Circles of Excellence meetings, there was considerable discussion of the economic future of the oil patch states (Oklahoma, in particular). Members are concerned the economy looks perilous, and reported customers seem to be more cautious and more interested in reducing their insurance costs.
Clearly, we need to be accommodating with customer’s concerns. But, I think we need to also be realistic about what is actually happening in the economy and that news is actually very good.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Oklahoma unemployment rate is 4.8%, Arkansas 4.8% and Kansas 3.9%. Importantly, all three states show an improvement in employment throughout 2015. Further, all three states are at or above “full employment”.
Yes, there are continuing job losses in the energy sector, and oil prices show no sign of rebounding in the near term. Yet, energy sector job losses are being replaced by job gains in the larger economy. Retail spending is also up and home sales in all three states outpaced the year before.
There is trouble brewing in the Middle East and Europe and the fear is this could lead to a national recession, these fears have been with us for eight years and yet we have a strong economy. Our strategic partner carriers are making record profits and expanding their market appetite in Commercial and Personal Lines in all three states.
What does this mean as you make decisions about your agency and its growth plans this year? It depends on what you see! If you see doom and gloom as some do you’d better build a storm shelter. But, if you see economic strength, growing economies and competitive insurance markets, as I do, then it’s time to invest in growing your business! That is precisely what we are doing at OAA.