Our Chamber’s annual Horizons Economic Forecast event recently took place on January 26th, 2023. This year’s event was sold out and saw over 500 guests in attendance. Expert economists, industry executives, and local business leaders convened to candidly discuss the economic outlook of the coming year and offer insights and advice to business owners.
Some of the top issues on everyone’s minds at Horizons this year were inflation, workforce development, and the possibility of a recession. Event speakers covered all these topics and more through presentations and live discussions. Read a recap of our top 10 takeaways from Horizons Economic Forecast below to be the most informed and prepared you can be for 2023!
1. PROGRESS AT THE PORT
The Port of Tacoma, one of the South Sound’s biggest economic drivers, has big plans for workforce development in our region. The Port is launching a new Workforce Development Strategic Plan in 2023 that will focus on pathways to well-paying jobs in maritime trades that do not require 4-year degrees, as well as increasing internships and paid work opportunities. The Port plans to partner with local organizations such as the Tacoma Youth Marine Foundation, as well as working with Tacoma Public Schools to develop a Maritime Skills Center for youth to gain practical on-site experience.
2. BOEING BREAKING RECORDS
Boeing, a company in our region that saw some of the biggest economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, is on the road to recovery and expects to see growth over the next 3-5 years. In December, Boeing announced a record-breaking order from United Airlines for the largest purchase of 787 Dreamliners in the company’s history as well as one hundred 737 MAX jets. Boeing is entering the first quarter of 2023 strong and is actively hiring.
3. INFLATION ON THE DECLINE
Inflation, while still a major concern for both businesses and consumers, has peaked and appears to be on the decline. According to Fiqri Dine, Head of Investments for the Pacific Northwest for J.P. Morgan Private Bank, we should expect to see inflation continue to drop with each coming month in 2023. However, getting inflation to below 2% may prove to be a challenge with variables such as China reopening, de-globalization of commerce in the U.S., and energy transition. The good news is that low unemployment and record high profits can serve as a stabilizing force for the U.S. economy while the Federal Reserve continues its efforts to curb inflation.
4. GET READY FOR RECESSION
A long-anticipated recession is likely to occur in Summer or Fall of 2023. However, experts predict that it will likely be short and mild.
5. UNEMPLOYMENT COULD INCREASE
Along with this, unemployment in Pierce County is likely to rise in 2023 to around 5.9% from an average of 5% in 2022.
6. ECONOMIC WELLNESS FELL FOR PIERCE COUNTY IN 2022
The Pierce County Economic Index (PCEI) fell by 1.5% in 2022. The PCEI is a measurement designed to gauge the economic health of Pierce County driven by changes to metrics in total real personal income and real personal income per capita in Pierce County, as well as other factors. The PCEI was previously forecast to fall by 0.4% in 2022 but had a more significant change due to factors such as the end of pandemic stimulus funds.
7. PIERCE COUNTY ECONOMIC INDEX FORECAST TO RISE IN 2023
The PCEI is forecast to rise 1.4% in 2023, which is positive news for Pierce County. The PCEI is useful for predicting how well residents in Pierce County are doing, as well as retail sales and consumer spending.
8. WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT STILL A FOCUS
Workforce development continues to be a top priority for investment in Pierce County. According to Samuel Bradshaw, Business Solutions Manager at WorkForce Central, skills-based hiring is an area of major interest for many jobseekers and employers. The skills-based approach to hiring prioritizes individuals’ skills and experiences rather than degrees. This is a way for employers fill open positions and practice diversity, equity, and inclusion by offering opportunities to workers from historically underserved communities and backgrounds.
9. CONSTRUCTION BUILDING BACK STEADILY
The construction industry struggled with high labor costs, high interest rates, and supply chain issues in 2022 which led to issues with many projects stalling or stopping in Pierce County. Rob Brewster, president of InterUrban Development, says that costs appear to be steadying for the industry which will lead to more consistency in development and the success of project completion.
10. JBLM PROVIDES ECONOMIC STABILITY AMONGST UNCERTAINTY
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Pierce County’s largest employer, was an important stabilizing force for the South Sound economy from 2020-2022. While many industries faced shutdowns and decreased staffing, JBLM remained open and operational. JBLM will continue to benefit the economy of our region in 2023 with increases to its military housing allowance, payroll, and basic sustenance allowance leading to more money being spent in South Sound markets.
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TACOMA-PIERCE COUNTY CHAMBER
950 Pacific Ave. Suite 300
Tacoma, Washington 98402
Phone: (253) 627-2175
Fax: (253) 597-7305