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January '18

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rv-pro.com January 2018 • RV PRO • 117 Fair weather ahead: That's the eco- nomic forecast for 2018. Business operations should ben- efit from an improving employment picture, growing disposable consumer income, and an easy credit environment, according to experts who spoke with RV PRO for this story. "The United States economy con- tinues to power forward," says Sophia Koropeckyj, managing director of industry economics at Moody's Ana- lytics, a research firm based in West Chester, Pa. "Furthermore, for the first time during the nation's eight-year expansion there are no serious impedi- ments to growth." Brisk tail winds should keep the economy in full sail for the near future. "Consumers are benefiting from a strong job market, their balance sheets are healthy, and credit is flowing freely," Koropeckyj says. "A revival in profit- ability, record stock prices, and rock- bottom borrowing costs are buoying businesses." Even the global picture is brighter. "All of the major economies are expanding in unison for the first time in a decade," she says. Steady Growth For 2018, Moody's expects gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 2.9 percent, thanks mostly to stronger growth in residential investment and government spending. That's a healthy increase from the 2.19 percent expected to be recorded for 2017 when numbers are finally tallied, a figure which was itself an increase from the 1.49 percent of the previous year. (GDP, the most common measure of economic growth, is the total spending on goods and services by con- sumers and businesses). A strengthening labor market should put more spendable cash in consumers' pockets, helping accelerate business activity in general. "We expect well over 2 million jobs to be created in 2017," Koropeckyj says. "This is about the same growth experi- enced since the expansion began over eight years ago." Strong job growth resulted in an unemployment rate of 4.4 percent by the end of 2017, a figure which is expected to fall to 3.94 percent by the end of 2018. A s u n e m p l o y m e n t d e c l i n e s , employers have more difficulty finding sufficient workers. That bodes well for wage growth, and for a resultant increase in consumer income. "Most measures of wage rates are showing some acceleration and pay increases remain in the headlines," says Scott Hoyt, senior director of con- sumer economics for Moody's Analytics. Average hourly earnings are expected to grow by 3 percent in 2018, up from the 2.6 percent increase of 2017, which was little changed from the previous year. B U S I N E S S Experts are optimistic on the whole for the new year, pointing to growing employment rolls, rising wages, and low borrowing costs. At the same time, they warn businesses should keep a watchful eye on Washington legislation and the continuing health of lending institutions. FORECAST BRIGHT FOR 2018 By Phillip M. Perry

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