Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland economist Dr. Joel Elvery provided an overview of current economic conditions Northeast Ohio and a forecast for 2015 at the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Middle-Market Forum in early December.
Key observations about the Northeast Ohio economy include:
- Cleveland’s per capita output continued to rise in 2013 and was higher than that of Ohio, nearby metropolitan areas and the U.S. as a whole.
- Cleveland’s per capita income was, in 2013, again above that of the U.S. and Ohio averages.
- In both Cleveland and Ohio, household debt is down to levels not seen since 2001.
- Unemployment declined sharply in 2014, but Cleveland’s rate is still above the nation’s.
- Employment growth has been weaker in Cleveland than the state and nation across many industry segments.
- Home prices rose more in 2014 than 2013 in the region but less than the state and national averages
- Measures that adjust for population (per capita and rates) show Northeast Ohio recovering about on par with U.S.
- Because population in the region declined from 1997 to 2012, measures that do not adjust for population show Northeast Ohio having a weaker recovery than U.S. The decline has tapered off and is now flat.
Looking ahead to 2015, Elvery said to expect:
- U.S. GDP to grow in range of 2.6 percent to 2.9 percent.
- U.S. unemployment rate to fall to around 5.5 percent.
- Inflation to remain below 2 percent.
- Federal Funds Rate to rise but remain historically low.
- Another takeaway from the the forum is that now is a good time to invest. Interest rates should rise in the coming years and the economy is expected to continue to grow.