New ETSU report sheds light on Appalachian economy

Published 10:24 am Wednesday, February 7, 2024

A modest increase in employment levels over the last year.
Housing prices remain mostly unaffordable for the local population.
A slight increase in the regional labor force.
This important information is part of a comprehensive economic forecast, designed specifically for the Appalachian Highlands. Experts in the Department of Economics and Finance at East Tennessee State University crafted the report.
“We believe strongly in the mission of ETSU, which is to improve the quality of life for the people of this region and beyond,” said Dr. Tony Pittarese, dean for the College of Business and Technology. “This Appalachian Highlands Economic Update helps do that by providing critical analysis on the regional and state economy.”
The report, published quarterly, serves many interests, according to Dr. Taylor P. Stevenson, chair of the department, who holds a Ph.D. in economics.
“This analysis can help local governments, as well as businesses, in terms of planning and developing economic strategies tailored to the region’s specific needs and potentials,” he said. “In addition, such a report informs and empowers our residents about economic conditions.”
The economic update builds on an event hosted at ETSU last year, the inaugural Appalachian Highlands Economic Forum. The gathering drew around 200 business leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials and more to ETSU. The second annual Appalachian Highlands Economic Forum is set for March 22.
Anyone may access the full economic report here. Some of the highlights:
Economic Growth: “Going forward, economic growth in the fourth quarter is expected to be lower than Q3 but still well outside the recession zone. While low inflation and rapid consumer spending are encouraging, the economy faces some serious headwinds …. (T)these factors will test the resilience of the U.S. economy in the coming months.” – Dr. Aryaman Bhatnagar, assistant professor
Financial Markets: “In summary, if/when the Federal Reserve starts cutting short-term interest rates, projected by some to start in March 2024, it is likely the market will go on a sustained bull run and surpass all-time market highs.” – Dr. William J. Trainor Jr, CFA director of the Center for the Study of Finance and professor
Labor and Employment: “There are mixed signals regarding whether or not the national and regional economies will fall into a recession over the next year. Expert forecasts of the probability of a recession over the next 12 months are fairly consistent, ranging around the 50% mark.” – Dr. Jon L. Smith, director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research and professor
Housing: “Housing prices remain elevated due to low levels of used home listings and high costs of land and new home building. The Producer Price Index for inputs to residential construction indicates that the cost of building a single-family or multifamily home rose 50% in the past decade. Indexed at 100 in December 2014, construction costs remained relatively modest through summer 2020, when the indices stood at 110.” – Dr. Joseph Newhard, associate professor

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