Expert: Depite positive trends, economic recovery still years away
NORMAL, Apr 26, 2012 (Menafn - The Pantagraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --The nation's economy is showing signs of a comeback, but Central Illinois residents might not see a recovery until at least 2015.
And that's only if indicators such as employment, manufacturing and consumer spending continue on a steady upward trend, said David Oppedahl, business economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who visited the Twin Cities on Thursday.
Oppedahl spoke to nearly 40 people who gathered for a Money Smart Week session at Heartland Community College.
Oppedahl reviewed trends across various indicators in the economy. He also reviewed the Federal Reserve's economic forecast which includes a moderate rise in employment as the jobless rate falls. Growth in manufacturing should remain solid, Oppedahl said. And the overall economy is expected to expand at a slightly higher pace in 2013, he added.
In Central Illinois and rural communities across the Chicago region of the Federal Reserve, agriculture is playing a major role in the recovery, with land values and profits increasing, Oppedahl said.
"We have valuable farmland in Illinois and that (value) went up 20 percent last year," Oppedahl said. "Corn and soybean prices were also up last year and that means strong incomes for (farmers)."
Still some areas in the economy remain unstable.
Food and energy costs are the most volatile as the economy recovers, Oppedahl said. From 2007 to 2009 food prices rose faster than core inflation, before dropping again in 2010. Food prices are on the rise again, he said. Another unstable area is housing industry, which has turned the corner in some areas, but remains a drag on the economy, he said.
Normal councilwoman Sonja Reece, who attended Oppedahl's presentation, said the health of the local community hinges on improvements in the nation's economy.
"We have in the uptown Normal area several development sites and their ability to be developed is significantly tied to the financial world," Reece said.
Reece said a full recovery in the Twin Cities also relies heavily on state decisions.
"It will be influenced by actions taken in Springfield that significantly impact the willingness of businesses to expand and hire," Reece said.
Money Smart Week runs through Saturday with events across the Twin Cities aimed at exploring financial matters. It is a partnership between the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and more than 75 businesses, nonprofit organizations and schools.
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