Business economist Bill Conerly, Ph.D., from Portland, gave an “Outsider’s View” of Tacoma and Pierce County at the annual luncheon for the area’s Economic Development Board. And he brought “good news” along with some area’s of concern for the future.
“We’re under-building housing in this marketplace and under-growing the population, given a robust jobs growth,” he told the audience, before citing statistics that brought him to the conclusion.
The greater Tacoma marketplace has seen strong population growth of 1.7 percent in the most recent measures and local jobs have increased by 3.2 percent. Combined with a consistent exodus of workers to jobs in adjacent counties, the resulting local Unemployment rate has dropped from 10 percent to six percent in recent years, and might even reach 5.5 percent, Conerly said.
But there has not been a surge in local residential housing construction. In fact, from most recent data, only 27 new housing units have been built per 100 new residents.
“Now, that ratio might work, if a typical household had four persons. But actually, it’s more like a little over two persons per household,” Conerly says. So he foresees issues ahead to provide adequate housing for new neighbors who are discovering the joys of South Sound living.
The analyst’s overall outlook for the country contains several areas of “uncertainty” –much of it linked to new political leadership in the White House. Trade policy, Immigration policy, Health Care policy, Regulatory policy and Tax policy comprise his list, though he does not predict radical change will be coming for most of these. Compromise and incremental adjustments are much more politically likely.
“I remain concerned with the (lackluster) growth rate of Business Capital Spending in the nation,” Conerly says. “And that could be because 67 percent of the U.S. economy is in ‘high uncertainty’ industries” subject to the many policy areas that are still unknown from the Trump administration.
You can read more of this economist’s views at his own website, www.conerlyconsulting.com