by Elizabeth Stone
In October, the University of West Georgia invited local and regional businesses to campus for the annual economic forecast breakfast, presented by the Richards College of Business, Department of Economics and Carroll County Chamber of Commerce. Three economic experts provided insight into their 2014 predictions on the local, state and national levels. The overall prediction? Primarily positive.
John Canally, senior vice president and economist for LPL Financial
Dr. William “Joey” Smith, associate professor of economics and director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at UWG, offered his insight into the state of the west Georgia region including Carroll, Coweta, Douglas, Haralson, Paulding and Polk counties. Dr. Smith noted that there have been sectorial gains in manufacturing, healthcare and food services, and that the region can expect continued gains in 2014. He also said that houses are selling at higher prices with fewer foreclosures and that employment numbers, including rates, jobs and UI claims, have improved in all regional counties except Haralson.
“The unemployment rate is declining,” says Dr. Smith. “Right now, for the entire region we’re down to around 8 percent, but for right now that’s a great number.”
Dr. Smith also provided data for the markets in which these jobs are located, especially in Carroll county. “What kind of jobs are we adding? Primarily service jobs,” he adds. “A lot of people consider service jobs as being low paid. A lot of service jobs in most of the counties range from about 62 percent to about 85 percent of what you would see in a good production job. But some of these service-providing jobs are not low-paying jobs, some of them are relatively high paid. In Carroll county, these jobs make up about 85 percent of good production jobs. That’s primarily because we have a lot of healthcare jobs in Carroll county.”
Kenneth Heaghney, state fiscal economist for Georgia and research professor of economics, followed Smith and offered his 2014 predictions for Georgia, including a state budget status report and an overview of the Georgia economic condition and outlook. He named several positives that Georgians could look forward to including that the state tax revenue growth was above plan in fiscal year 2013 and is ahead of the budget so far in fiscal year 2014. He also said that Georgia employment is growing faster than U.S. employment with good diversification across sectors and that housing is recovering.
“We’ve seen home prices grow quote well over the past year or so,” Kenneth says. “Another piece of good news in my mind is that we have seen 13 consecutive months of price increases month over month.” He also voiced his concerns for 2014 including the modest pace of the U.S. economic recovery, fiscal policy uncertainty and exit from quantitative easing.
Finally, John Canally, senior vice president and economist for LPL Financial, provided the U.S. economic and financial outlook for 2014. John plays an integral role in the development and articulation of LPL Financial market and investment strategies. He has been quoted in many national publications, such as USA Today, Washington Post and TIME magazine. John is also a guest on national business television and radio including NPR, CNBC, BloombergTV and Fox Business News.
John provided a bit of perspective for the crowd saying that the U.S. is no longer in a recession and that we are now nearing the halfway point in the economic recovery.
“We got here despite the drag from government, because of housing and because of some help from spending, like consumers who are two-thirds of the economy,” he says. “So we’re about halfway through [the recovery]. If you look at the data, the data says recessions are caused by an imbalance in the economy in one form or another, and in the late 1990s the imbalance was that we did way too much investing in the tech sector. We got way overbuilt in that one sector, and we had a pretty mild recession.”
John also provided hope for a small chance of recession in coming years as well. “So if we look at the data, it tells you maybe there’s a 10-15 percent chance of recession in the next couple years,” he adds. “I think we’re pretty solidly in the middle part of the recovery.”
Sponsors for the Economic Forecast Breakfast included BB&T, Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, SBDC Georgia, Milestone Investment Management, LLC, Southwire and Tanner Health System. Co-sponsors for the event include Advantage Office Solutions, AgSouth Farm Credit/AgSouth Mortgages, Carroll Electric Membership Corporation, Community and Southern Bank, MetroBank, Systems and Methods, Inc., Tisinger Vance, P.C., Valic-Cliff England Financial Advisor and Wells Fargo.