Another positive omen is the speed with which business is paying its bills. According to Dun & Bradstreet Corp., companies' bill-paying performance edged higher last quarter, continuing an upturn that began in late 1991.
D&B's payment-performance survey, based on the bill-paying records of some 500,000 companies, indicates that the number of large companies (those with 500 or more employees) paying their bills more rapidly exceeded the number paying more slowly for the third straight quarter. And although more medium-size companies are still slowing payments rather than accelerating them, the gap is closing. Similarly, bill-paying quickened in eight of the nine regions of the U.S. last quarter.
The odd men out were small companies and companies located in the Pacific states, particularly California. Companies with fewer than 20 employees continued to show little payments improvement, and the Pacific region is now turning in the worst bill-paying performance in the nation.