Economic Déjà Vu

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Folks at the Columbus Metropolitan Club may want to book another guest for their January 2013 roster if the gloomy economy persists.

CMC hosted economists Bill LaFayette, owner of Regionomics, and Jim Newton, chief economic advisor for Commerce National Bank, on Jan. 4 to hear their predictions for the coming year.

If you loved 2011, Newton advised, 2012 will bring more of the same—“very limited growth”:

• Job growth will remain stagnant, with LaFayette predicting 10,000 net new jobs in the eight-county region, while Newton projects half that level.

• Unemployment numbers still stink.

• Consumer spending stinks.

• Government employment stinks, too, with LaFayette predicting a further decline of 1.7 percent in 2012.

• Workforce development efforts are sorely lacking, to the point where some employers—particularly in IT—have open jobs but can’t find workers with the skills to fill them.

• Columbus no longer has the best economy in Ohio. The whole state gained more employment percentage-wise last year than the region.

• The bright side will be the business services sector (think engineering, architecture, marketing, personnel and the like), where LaFayette predicts 4,200 net new jobs.

But the news isn’t all bad, Newton, comforted: At least we’re doing better than the European Union. “Sometimes, not bad is good enough,” he said.

LaFayette, making his 11th consecutive CMC appearance to unveil his Blue Chip forecast, may have summed it up best: “I’ve been down so long that down looks up to me.”

Thanks for the cheery start to the new year, gentlemen.

Reprinted from the February 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.