For example the labor department reports consumer inflation is non-existent. Mortgage rates, already at forty year lows, may be ratcheted downward further when the Federal Reserve meets next week. That action could propel new home construction into hyper-activity. That sector of the economy has been booming for much of the year.
While employment continues to lag and many companies are still searching for profit, there is a sense in some sectors that things are improving. In Rural America the prospect of good crops coupled with market demand is refueling long depleted stores of optimism.
A number of factors are bolstering the optimism: abundant rainfall is easing drought conditions in much of the West and Midwest; commodity prices, which seemed to be stagnant for much of the past five years, are moving again; and, thanks to Uncle Sam, payments to farmers are scheduled to nearly double this year to more than $21 (B) billion.
Consequently, the Agriculture Department is predicting that net farm income will reach $46.2 (B) billion this yearÃ¢Â€Â¦ an increase of more than 50% from 2002 Ã¢Â€Â" when net farm income fell to its lowest level since the farm crisis era of the 1980s.
But, the outlook isnÃ¢Â€Â™t rosy in every sector of agriculture. Dairy producers are weathering the lowest prices in more than 25 years. Corn prices, while up 15% in the past year, are still about half of what they were in 1996. U.S. wheat production is expected to rise by 35% this year, but last yearÃ¢Â€Â™s crop was the smallest in three decades.
Still, with adequate moisture returning to key growing locations throughout the nation, AmericaÃ¢Â€Â™s farmers and ranchers are cautiously optimistic that much of the rural economy is on the rebound.