We had a great time this morning at the Nevada County Economic Forecast Conference in the Veteran’s Hall. It was a lot more fun than we expected.
The people at our table (right next to the stage) were welcoming, energetic and fun: Gil Mathew, Judy Hess, Gary Zimmerman, David Gallo and Peter Van Zant. Only after grabbing a couple of the remaining free chairs in the room did we realize that we were at the speakers’ table. Good choice.
Gary Zimmerman, Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, was the first to speak. He recapped the standard national indicators of the recession: high, long-term unemployment, plunging permits for single family housing, high loan delinquency rates, etc.
His good news was mostly recent news: Increased activity in the housing market (but from a low level), job gains in the recent quarter, upticks in personal consumption, etc.
His summary? A slow recovery, which has already begun in a moderate fashion. “Underutilized capacity and a high unemployment rate are expected to persist for some time.”
Professor David Gallo reported on economic conditions at the county level.
One of his more shocking graphs was labeled “Value of Residential Building Permits: Nevada County 2001-2009,” showing a plunge from a peak of $160 million in 2005 to about $30 million in 2009!
And yet he too had some good news, but to find it he had to look beyond employment growth, which “is a trailing indicator.”
He predicts that “if national growth is between 3% and 4%, then Nevada County growth should be between 4% and 5%.”
“The early stages of recovery for the national economy imply that the economies of California and Nevada County are currently growing as well.”