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WOWO Gets A Closer Look at Northeast Indiana’s Economy Ahead of Holiday Season

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): It's a positive, but modest economic outlook for the months to come in northeast Indiana and the state overall. Experts from IPFW and IU say Indiana’s economy is strong, with lots of growth and manufacturing jobs returning to the Hoosier state. The experts say, that could mean a happy holiday for hundreds of retailers.

When it comes to northeast Indiana specifically, the economic panel of experts hosted by IPFW, says the area is close to returning to pre-recession numbers.

Some observations today:

U.S. Economic Outlook:

Kyle Anderson, clinical professor in Business, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

*Business investment and hiring is picking up.
*Employment will dip to around 5.5 percent around the state, but that doesn't mean workers are in ideal jobs.
*Realistically about 63 to 67 percent of Americans are employed or actively looking for work.

Financial Market Outlook:

Charles Trzcinka, Chair of Finance, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

*Company earnings are up, except for energy companies. That's tied directly to oil prices falling.
*The deficit is still a major issue, its growing at about $.5 trillion per year.
*The stock market will remain flat or negative. Overall there will be an average return, closer to the 10 year average – 7.5 percent.
*Interest rates won't increase until mid-year.

Indiana Economic Outlook:

Jerry Conover, Director, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University

*Gross Domestic Product will remain closer the national projections. It's slowing.
*About 3 percent based on assumptions.
*Consumer confidence is up.
*Indiana's GDP is 16th in the Nation – 12th largest exporting state
*Indiana's biggest exports are automobiles and parts to Canada and Mexico, that's likely to remain strong or at least solid.
*Housing is improving. Adverse winter impacted business. Sales up from last year, average home price is also rising. Construction starts on the rebound.
*Lower energy prices will me more discretionary money spent by consumers. That translates to more in cash registers. Lower fuel bills translate to happier holiday spending.

Northeast Indiana Outlook:

Ellen Cutter, Director, Community Research Institute, IPFW

*Northeast Indiana lost nearly 19,000 jobs in the “great” recession. Pushing employment to its lowest level since 1992. The job market was strained even more with 70,000 more residents.
*6,700 new jobs were created in 2013.
*About 1,700 off pre-recession numbers in 2008.
*Most of those jobs are in manufacturing, about 4,500 to 5,000. That's about 1 in 5 jobs.
*Wages lagging behind job growth. Average income is $39,000 per year, that's about 80 percent of the national average and 96 percent of the Indiana average.
*Average home price is $116,000.

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