The national and local economies should continue to do well in 2020, an expert speaker told Delaware Area Chamber of Commerce members at a Third Thursday luncheon held at SourcePoint in Delaware.
Nationally, “there’s not much that’s out-of-whack,” said Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics and co-author of “Knowledge Economies and Knowledge Work (Working Methods for Knowledge Management).” While it has been more than a decade without a downturn, it’s not inevitable that we’re about to get into one, he said. For example, Australia has had more than 28 consecutive years of economic expansion.
LaFayette said consumer confidence has been holding steady. “When consumers are happy, so is the economy,” he said. And based on data such as Gross Domestic Product growth, “there’s nothing to trigger a recession.” That said, LaFayette added U.S. economic expansion is the “slowest we’ve had in recent history. There’s slow growth, but nothing to worry about nationally.”
The Columbus Metropolitan Statistical Area, which consists of more than 2 million people in 10 counties, was measured for his annual forecast, LaFayette said. In a handout, he wrote, “Columbus MSA employment growth continued in 2019, but slowed further from its robust pace earlier in the expansion. Growth failed to exceed the national average for a second consecutive year in 2019. This will again be the case in 2020.”
Despite an aging population, the Delaware County employment picture looked especially good in three sectors: retail, hospitality (hotels and restaurants) and corporate management. LaFayette attributed the first two sectors to Polaris’ impact on the area, saying out-of-town consumers are paying local sales taxes. In addition, “Central Ohio is benefitting from online shopping, because we’re a big distribution hub, again bringing in dollars from elsewhere,” he said.
In three other sectors — healthcare, manufacturing and finance/insurance — LaFayette said Delaware County also fares well. Agriculture, a big sector in Delaware County, was “even more productive than manufacturing,” he said.
“We could be Youngstown in 20 years,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen,” however.
A looming problem on the horizon, though, will be finding enough people with the right skills for future jobs. However, LaFayette considered that to be a good problem.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.