Attendees received a blend of positive and unfavorable information Thursday during an annual economic forecast summit at Rose Heights Church.
The summit, in its fourth year, is hosted by the University of Texas at Tyler College of Business and Technology and the UT Tyler Hibbs Institute for Business and Economic Research.
During the summit, representatives from area businesses heard from Dr. Ronald A. Johnson, dean of the Jesse H. Jones School of Business at Texas Southern University, who served as the keynote speaker.
UT Tyler Provost Dr. Alisa White; Dr. Vivek Pandey, director of the UT Tyler Hibbs Institute for Economic and Business Research; Dr. Jerry W. Gilley, UT Tyler College of Business and Technology interim dean; and Dr. Roger Lirely, UT Tyler chair and professor of accounting, also addressed the crowd.
Before Johnson spoke, Gilley introduced Pandey, who discussed results of the East Texas Business Outlook Survey.
Those results show, among other things, that employment conditions are not expected to be very robust, he said.
Pandey said although it is a less optimistic forecast, in part because of low employment levels, the timing of the survey and the looming U.S. debt crisis may be affecting the results.
Lirely then introduced Johnson, calling him "perhaps the most intelligent man I've ever met."
As Johnson stepped up to address audience members, he thanked the Hibbs Institute for inviting him and went on to give his presentation, which covered topics such as "the new U.S. economic normal; implications for small and medium size enterprises; implications for long-term investors; and a diversified solution: increasing bandwidth."
In talking about the new economic normal, he cited "continued slow real U.S. economic growth," as evidenced by the Gross Domestic Product.
He said this is in line with global economic growth, and, according to his presentation, "is anchored by moderate consumer spending."
According to his presentation, new home sales are at "relatively low levels," and planned new housing construction also is at "low levels."
Still, he said, housing construction compared to the past is strong, and the importance of housing to the economy is not where it was.
Additionally, his presentation states, "labor markets continue to struggle."
"The unemployment rate went up, (and) people dropped out of the labor force," Johnson said. "The population is growing, and the number of people with jobs relative to (the) population has dropped."
He said men have suffered greatly in the recession and recovery, but the biggest sufferers are youth, as young people have the highest increase in unemployment and the highest drop in labor participation.
"That's a serious problem … Our youth are not employed, and there's no sign of recovery there," he added.
According to his presentation, part of the "new normal" also is that "U.S. global competiveness is slipping," and that "the government is on the sidelines" as far as "government consumption and investment."
Johnson then talked about "implications for small and medium size enterprises" and "implications for the long-term investor."
After his presentation, attendees had an opportunity to ask questions.
Gilley also gave Johnson a plaque before talking about the future of the Hibbs Institute and thanking those who have been involved with the summit event.
Patty Steelman, director of marketing with Austin Bank, said there were good take-aways from the summit. She said she not only appreciated Johnson being there, but also that the university brings someone in each year.
Jessica Brown, marketing coordinator for the UT Tyler College of Business and Technology, said the goal with the summit is to partner with people in the community and provide expert information.
"We always like to give people a heads up and to be looking for the next summit," Ms. Brown said.
She said another summit is set to take place next fall.