Better days ahead for optometry says Vision Expo West keynote speaker

December 1, 2010

What is now being called the 'Great Recession' is now officially over, statistically, if not emotionally, according to the keynote speaker of International Vision Expo West.

Las Vegas-Optometrists who have been waiting and hoping for some good news about the economy received some here from economist Jeff Thredgold, president of Thredgold Economic Associates, Clearfield, UT. Thredgold was the keynote speaker at International Vision Expo West.

According to Thredgold, what is now being called "The Great Recession" is officially over-statistically if not emotionally. The recession technically ended in Q3 2009, after a run of 18 months, with a peak-to-trough contraction of gross domestic product of 4.1% and a loss of more than 7 million jobs. However, the economy has returned to growth-albeit slow-and a growing economy is what portends better days ahead.

"The thing that helps all of our respective communities and businesses is when the economy is growing versus declining," Thredgold told Optometry Times. "We've been through an incredibly tough two-and-a-half year period, but both the U.S. and global economies have returned to growth. Roughly 25 states have added jobs the past 12 months, after every one of them got hit with recession.

The bottom line for optometrists? "If you've been hanging on for the past couple of years, doing all the things you're supposed to do to control your costs, and making smart decisions while waiting for people to come back in the door, they will," Thredgold said. "It's not going to be boom conditions, but it will get better.

Thredgold pointed out that economic predictions for the future are often divided into two camps: very positive and very negative. On the negative side are economists who say that the country is destined late this year or in early 2011 to slide right back into a so-called "double-dip" recession.

More optimistic economists point out that not since the Great Depression has the economy come down violently without going back the other way. The reality, he said, will probably be somewhere in the middle.

"There are still issues with home prices, the price of commercial real estate, and the ability to finance either one," Thredgold said. "There are also issues with still near double-digit unemployment and our anxiety as consumers, as parents, as grandparents, about the terrific deficit. But our best guess right now is economic growth running at 2% to 2.5% after inflation over the next 12 to 18 months."