Any talk of an imminent recession is premature, according to economist Elliot Eisenberg of GraphsandLaughs LLC, who spoke at Thursday’s 2019 Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook Lunch.
“There are bits and pieces here and there that our economy is slowing,” Eisenberg says. “But that doesn’t mean a recession is in the cards.”
Eisenberg went through several national economic figures, such as GDP growth, consumer spending, unemployment and more, giving quick explanations on what the numbers meant. He says the economy is red hot right now and not sustainable.
“The GDP (gross national product) and growth are slowing down, but it will maybe be at 2.9 percent or 2.4 percent, not the north of 3 percent we are seeing now. But 2.4 percent is still a good growth rate,” he says. “I see the economy slowly down gradually.”
Eisenberg says consumers are confident and spending more money right now because they are seeing real wage growth and unemployment is low. “That’s a definite plus for the economy,” he says.
While Eisenberg says a recession this year is unlikely, the probability increases in 2020 and 2021. “We are slowly deteriorating, but I think a recession will only happen if a fundamental policy goes wrong or there’s a shock to the system like a war.”
Trade will likely be the factor that will lead the country into a recession, Eisenberg says. The dollar is strong, which is not good for companies that export, and the tariff war with China has already slowed the economic growth rate.
“I think if the tariff war continues or gets worse with China, we start putting tariffs on cars from Europe and Japan and Trump throws NAFTA and its replacement out the window — I know that sounds like a lot that would have to happen, but it could — then I think we’ll be in a recession,” Eisenberg says.
Closer to home: As part of the Fox Cities Economic Outlook Lunch, the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce released the results of its annual economic survey.
According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of businesses anticipate sales will increase in 2019, while another 30 percent expected sales to remain the same. When it comes to employment, 40 percent plan to hire more workers in the coming year, and nearly 50 percent predict their employee count will remain the same.
Area business leaders are concerned about the quality and quantity of the area’s workforce. More than 40 percent say the availability of qualified workers is low/poor, and 60 percent say the biggest challenge to doing business in the Fox Cities is the availability of talent/workforce.