Northeast Ohio’s economy will pick up some additional momentum this year, with manufacturing remaining the primary driver despite slightly slower growth within the industry itself, according to findings of PNC Bank’s first-quarter market outlook for the region. I would expect the same in Ashtabula County.
Health care, finance and professional services also will contribute to the economic recovery in 2015. The PNC report covers the Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown areas.
Other significant regional findings, though not consistent with Ashtabula County, include:
• Utica shale production, though slowing, will left incomes in eastern Ohio, while improving consumer finances are boosting auto sales consistent with an economic expansion.
• The area’s aging population is spurring demand for health care services. That industry employs an estimated 18% of Northeast Ohio’s workforce.
• Progress by manufacturing-led job gains has helped push median household incomes to roughly $47,500 — about a 1% increase over its pre-recession peak — but that’s still about 12% lower than the national figure.
• Average hourly wages are rising more quickly than the national average, suggesting that while the manufacturing and energy-production industries are not adding a lot of workers, they’re supporting the economy by boosting work hours and production.
• A robust housing market is being supported by high affordability, low mortgage rates and easier access to credit, although housing prices are expected to rise in the next several years. Housing is very affordable in the region, the report says, but “the area will struggle to capitalize on this advantage without greater economic vitality.”
• Long-term, a projected continuation of population loss is expected to cause Northeast Ohio to be a “below-average” performer in terms of job growth, although natural gas extraction is expected to create new jobs, income and tax revenue.
Download the full PNC economic report here: PNC EconOutlook2015