The annual Economic Outlook event at Matthews, Carter & Boyce, featuring renowned economist Dr. Terry Clower, proved once again to be an educational and highly engaging talk. Held on January 16 at the MCB offices in Fairfax, the event drew over 100 attendees who enjoyed refreshments and networking prior to the start of the presentation. The event was co-sponsored by Atlantic Union Bank.

Dr. Clower addressed global, national and local economic trends in his talk, drawing the audience into the discussion by asking attendees to share their own experiences on what they are seeing in their businesses and industries. He began by offering some insight on the global economic picture, commenting, for example, on how climate change is sure to impact the international economy. Increased rainfall is changing the Panama Canal, which will undoubtedly affect commerce. He also spoke about how Brexit will affect the European markets in the coming years, and how tariffs are hammering sectors of our economy.

Focusing on national trends, Dr. Clower discussed how millennials are buying more “experiences” and fewer “things,” which is driving the hospitality market up. Consumer confidence is good, construction is picking back up again, and the unemployment rate is low. However, companies are having a hard time finding and keeping good people. Labor productivity is not as high as we would like it to be. There is a “location mismatch” – jobs are not always located where people want to live. Despite these challenges, we are still the world’s best economy at “inventing and commercializing technology” and disseminating its use.

Regarding our local economy, the unemployment rate in our region is very low. Professional and business services are growing. The leisure, hospitality and tourism markets are growing. But we are losing people at critical ages – they are moving out of the area to raise their families in other parts of the country, where they can afford housing. Coupled with the fact that baby boomers are retiring and pulling out of the workforce, it is increasingly difficult for local businesses to attract talent.

And there are plenty of jobs to fill. Our region is the top cyber-security market in the country, with more than 16,000 unfilled jobs. Amazon will add 2,000-3,000 new jobs. The challenge for our region is not only how will we staff these positions, but where will these people live?

Dr. Clower closed his talk by discussing the importance of collaboration between economic development teams in our region to solve our most pressing challenges and best position our region to compete for talent and capital. He also spoke about the importance of helping small businesses in our area grow and flourish.

Final takeaway questions included topics such as what effect the election will have on the economy, how our policies will address the recession (when it does happen) and how we can better address labor market disruption.

In spite of some challenges and concerns, Dr. Clower ended the talk on a very high note, commenting that we don’t expect a recession anytime too soon – certainly not in 2020. He jokingly reassured attendees, saying “Don’t worry, be moderately happy!”

For a copy of Dr. Clower’s complete presentation, please contact info@mcb-cpa.com. Learn more about future MCB-sponsored events by visiting our firm events page. We want to stay in touch! Subscribe to our firm newsletter and follow our social channels to stay abreast of future events and the latest economic news. Contact an MCB Advisor at 703-218-3600 or click here to ask us a question.

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