The year ahead: Chamber experts will predict the economics of 2014 at breakfast

Staff writerJanuary 7, 2014 

It’s a new year, and there’s a new team prepared to tell Pierce County what kind of a year – economically – this is going to be.

The news will come Thursday at the annual Horizons Economic Forecast breakfast hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce Chamber at the Bicentennial Pavilion adjacent to Hotel Murano downtown.

After 25 years, University of Puget Sound professors Bruce Mann and Douglas Goodman will no longer offer their annual update to their Pierce County Economic Index. They have both retired from the event, and in their stead, Pacific Lutheran University economics professors Neal Johnson and Martin Wurm will provide the prognostications.

The keynote speaker at the 7 a.m. event will be Martin Regalia, senior vice president for economic and tax policy and chief economist at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Beyond economics, attendees will hear Stephanie Anne Johnson, from Tacoma, and Austin Jenckes, of Duvall, both singer-songwriters and veterans of the TV show “The Voice.”

Under its new leadership, there will be some changes to the methodology used to compile the Pierce County Economic Index, and this year’s report will include a new “Housing Affordability Index”

Although the latest state of the PCEI will not be released until Drs. Johnson and Wurm speak Thursday, some predictions made a year ago have found their fruition.

Where Drs. Goodman and Mann forecast that unemployment in Pierce County would drop to 7.9 percent in 2013, Jeff  Robinson, research manager with the state Employment Security Department, said Tuesday that by November last year the rate slid to 7.8 percent. Not a bad forecast, as forecasts go.

However, where Goodman and Mann called for a 5.5 percent increase in personal income, the actual figure more closely resembled a hike of just above 2 percent. The housing index figure likewise did not reach the predicted optimistic level.

But 2013 was hit by unpredictable forces – including sequestration and a government shutdown that slowed activity at federal facilities in the county.

Tickets for Thursday’s gathering are still available at prices ranging from $65 for chamber members who make a purchase before the event, to $105 for non-members who buy at the door. Call 253-683-4881 for more information.

 

The News Tribune reliably predicts a breakfast menu that will include apple crepes, bacon and scrambled eggs. 

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