Economics with Rick Harper
7:34 am
Fri January 3, 2014

Stronger Economy Expected In 2014

In this week’s Economic Report, Dr. Rick Harper discusses the outlook for 2014. Harper expects this year to be a little bit better than 2013. “The main reason for that is that we’ll see less of a drag coming from the federal sector. The slow down in federal spending last year probably subtracted 1.5 percentage points from GDP (Growth Domestic Product) growth. We could have been up almost 4 percent," Harper says.

Credit University of West Florida

According to Harper, the shrinkage in government spending should be less in 2014, with some of the hardest hits already with Sequestration.

Harper projects that unemployment will continue to fall, as long-term unemployment benefits run out and fewer people report themselves as looking for work.  More importantly, Harper says, is the number of jobs created.  “In the last part of 2013, we were creating about 200,000 jobs a month in the U.S. economy…If we can keep that up or even increase it a little bit, then that’s an indication that 2014 will be stronger than what we’ve seen over the last several years,” he says.

Checking the economic outlook for Florida, Harper says in 2014 the state should continue to outperform the nation. But, he also notes that there’s still a long way to go (in Florida) to gain back the jobs that were lost in the recession.

On the housing front, Harper says analysts are expecting a slow down in price appreciation, which for the last several quarters has seen annual rates of around 12-14 percent.  

Finally, Harper expects a moderate growth in the cost of fuel, particularly natural gas and gasoline.

Dr. Rick Harper is Director of the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement. He’s currently serving as Senior Economic Policy Advisor to the Florida Senate.  http://www.uwf.edu/oede/, rharper@uwf.edu