Several jaws dropped and eyebrows rose in January when BizTimes predicted a robust year of national economic growth for 2015.Â However, thatâ€™s precisely what our data and surveys were pointing to. The headline of the cover story proclaimed, "Ramp it up!"
Well, weâ€™re at the quarter pole, and so far, so good.
A national group of economic forecasters is raising its outlook for the U.S. economy for the next two years.
The March report from the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) forecasts more hiring, a lower unemployment rate, a lower inflation rate and more growth in consumer spending in 2015, compared with the group's forecast in December 2014.
The report also forecasts more investment by businesses in both equipment and intellectual property and modest growth for the U.S. stock market.
"NABEâ€™s March 2015 Outlook Survey panel expects a markedly stronger pace of economic growth in 2015 and 2016 than was recorded last year," says NABE president John Silvia, chief economist of Wells Fargo. "The panelistsâ€™ median forecast is for real GDP to increase 3.1 percent on an average annual basis this year followed by a 2.9 percent rise in 2016. This compares to a gain of only 2.4 percent in 2014. Healthier consumer spending, housing investment, and government spending growth are expected to make outsized contributions to the projected acceleration in overall economic activity. Accordingly, recent labor market strength is expected to continue. The panelistsâ€™ median forecast is for net new job creation to average approximately 250,000 per month in 2015 and 216,000 per month next year. The unemployment rate is expected to continue its downward trend over the next several quarters, reaching 5 percent by the second half of 2016."
Gross domestic product is expected to grow 3.1 percent in 2015.
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) validated the optimism in its second quarter Business Outlook Survey. Seventy-six percent of MMAC businesses surveyed expect sales increases in the second quarter, 71 percent expect profit gains and 59 percent predict employment growth over year-ago levels.
"Outlook levels remain at high points in the post-recessionary period," said Bret Mayborne, the MMACâ€™s economic research director. "The current levels of optimism expressed on sales, profit and employment have each matched or exceeded levels posted before the recession. The post-recession period in the Milwaukee area has been one of modest but consistent gains. As a result it has taken a bit of time to get back to pre-recession levels. The second quarter outlook survey results suggest that as far as business confidence is concerned we have largely bridged the gap. The high level of business optimism and the overall upward trend in the local economy perhaps suggest a greater likelihood of accelerated future growth built on a solid foundation."
The momentum of the economic recovery also is being felt in some parts of the local housing market. Realtors and buyers in communities such as Oak Creek, Wauwatosa, the North Shore and eastern Waukesha County are reporting a strong "sellerâ€™s market," with multiple bids for houses on the day they are put up for sale.
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Steve Jagler
Published April 8, 2015
Under new ownership, the Milwaukee Bucks made significant strides by building a young pool of talent on the court this season. However, the organization also has quickly assembled an impressive pool of young talent off the court in the front office.
Published March 25, 2015
By virtually every measure, Minnesota is taking Wisconsin's lunch money, according to a recent study by the LaCrosse Tribune, which lies right at the border.
Published March 11, 2015
In his Feb. 23 column for the BizTimes, Steve Jagler observed that each time a project is proposed to propel the city forward, someone or something seems to pop up and attempts to stop it. Judging from the feedback Steve Jagler received in response to his piece, many readers feel the same way.
Published Feb. 9, 2015
Since 1851, Wisconsin's state motto has been "Forward." However, these days, a more appropriate motto might be "Just hold on a minute..."
Published Jan. 14, 2015
If it seems like so many public policy decisions are hanging fire in Wisconsin these days, it's only because they are. And so many of these loose ends seem to be intertwined and interdependent.
Published Dec. 23, 2014
As the legal slog to develop a new streetcar system in Downtown Milwaukee continues to play out in court, in City Hall and at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, proponents and opponents alike would do well to keep an eye on Cincinnati.
Published Dec. 2, 2014
If asked to return for another term as secretary and chief executive officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., Reed Hall says he would be honored to serve again.
Published Nov. 14, 2014
In recent years, the Milwaukee Bucks have not had much to celebrate when they've conducted their annual preview luncheon with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. This year, however, there was a tangible buzz in the room at the event, which was held at the Harley-Davidson Museum.
Published Nov. 12, 2014
In essence, preserving net neutrality would ensure that all consumers and businesses will have universal levels of access to a fast Internet, not just some preferred customers who would pay for "faster lanes" on the Internet.
Published Oct. 29, 2014
Over the years, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and its president, Tim Sheehy, have been vocal and ardent opponents of new taxes. That's why more than a few business leaders were still trying to process the messages Sheehy gave them when he spoke to the Milwaukee Rotary Club recently about the need to raise public financing for the region's cultural and entertainment venues.