Dr. Stephen Fuller Addresses Prince William Chamber
Discusses Economic Outlook for Northern Virginia; “More Honest Growth”
Prince William, Virginia – Dr. Stephen Fuller, Director of the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University was the guest speaker at the Prince William Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Luncheon. More than 80 business leaders gathered to hear the expert economist at Old Hickory Golf Club in Woodbridge. The luncheon was sponsored by Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C.
During his keynote presentation, Dr. Fuller offered data on economic trends nationally as well as here in Northern Virginia. He stressed that for the national economy, “2014 will be better than 2013, and 2015 will be better than 2014.” Dr. Fuller predicted that this growth will be a slower, “more honest” economic growth, not getting back to 2005 levels until at least 2018, and will largely be driven by “pent up demand [in the housing sector].”
Fuller also explained that the economy seems to have “right-sized” itself but that while the private sector is ready to grow, it will not hire until there is stronger demand. Consumer confidence, a large factor in that growth, is getting better but is still not optimistic.
On the job front, education and health services will continue to be the largest employment sector nationally. Fuller noted that those two job sectors focus largely on services for the aging Baby Boomer population and the Millennials. He advised businesses to be on the lookout for ways to cater to those two generations according to the way they each focus on quality of life.
Unemployment rates have dropped nationally to 6.5%, due largely to declining labor force participation. This is partly due to an aging workforce but also that many of the jobs available do not match the skills of the unemployed, showing the importance of enhanced workforce education efforts, something the Chamber is actively engaged in.
In discussing the Washington, DC area economy, Dr. Fuller explained that, despite sequestration which took approximately $2 billion out of the area economy, we are still extremely dependent on federal spending and that while the region will still grow, it will be at a slower pace than accustomed to. He also predicted that as the region grows out of its thirty year dependence on federal government spending, Northern Virginia will add more jobs and grow faster than else where in the region due to the strong business base that is not connected to federal government spending.
“Key to future economic growth and success in Northern Virginia is the ability to diversify our economy,” said Fuller. With a growing number of international businesses along the Dulles and I-95 corridors, he explained that our region is poised to become a major global business center with access to a highly educated workforce and research institutions. He went on to stress that better connectivity to Dulles throughout the region is critical to this success.
“We appreciate the insight shared by Dr. Fuller,” said William White, Chairman of the Prince William Chamber. “The Chamber strives to empower our membership, giving them the tools they need to shape a strong business environment.”
Martin Briley, President & CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, is the speaker for the next event in the Chamber’s leadership series, scheduled for April 22 at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville. Details can be found online at www.pwchamber.org or by calling 703-368-6600.