Local and national news stories are painting contrasting pictures of the business environment.
The local Business Showcase, sponsored by the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, provided an opportunity to share, network and celebrate the scope and strength of area businesses.
We join in congratulating the Wallstreet Group, honored as Small Business of the Year, and Exceptional Employee Award winner Sherry Brandt, director of social services at Oak Tree Villas.
The honors have an added significance because the winners emerged from well-deserving groups of finalists and nominees.
Employers and employees, however, cannot thrive without confidence.
On a national scale, that confidence is eroding, in large measure because of the unstable economic landscape created by the federal government.
An Associated Press story published Wednesday began: "The uncertainty and weakness that hung over the U.S. job market in September before the government shut down aren't going away."
The story continued: "Employers will likely remain slow to hire as long as the economy struggles to accelerate, consumers limit their spending and Congress keeps putting off a resolution to a budget fight that will resurface early next year."
Other national business stories have focused on employers offering part-time rather than full-time positions because of uncertainty about the costs of offering health care under the federal Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.
And, concerns that recent graduates will be unable to find full-time employment have escalated into whether they can find any employment.
Another national AP story Thursday reported nearly 15 percent of people aged 16 to 24 are not on the job or in school, according to The Opportunity National coalition. "This is not a group that we can write off. They just need a chance," said Mark Edwards, the coalition's executive director.
Congress's chronic inability to approve a budget has led to sequester, shutdown and the brink of default. Although default was averted, it was not eliminated and will emerge again early next year.
Actions - and inaction - have consequences.
President Obama and Congress have created an atmosphere of uncertainty, and those consequences are rippling among consumers, employees and employers.
We may debate the proper role of government in helping people. What is clear is government should not be harming people - particularly employers who fuel the economic engine of community, country and prosperity.
We deserve and must demand better.