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Experts Discuss Local, State and National Economies at Southern Miss Symposium PDF Print E-mail
Friday, January 15, 2010
Contact Van Arnold, 601.266.5568   

Dr. David Altig, chief economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, expresses cautious optimism about the U.S. economy’s current condition and expectations for the near future.

“The not-so-great news is that we really don’t expect the recovery to be extremely rapid, but upward is the right direction and that’s where we’re going,” said Altig. “We’ve come from a very deep recession into the beginning stages of an expansion. Our economy is certainly on the mend.”

Altig served as one of three featured speakers during The Economic Outlook for 2010 symposium held Thursday Jan., 14 at the Thad Cochran Center on The University of Southern Mississippi campus. The annual symposium was sponsored by the Southern Miss College of Business’ Bureau of Business and Economic Research and The First: A National Banking Association.

Approximately 100 business professionals from all walks of the economic spectrum attended the one-day symposium that also featured presentations by Dr. Rajeev Dhawan, professor and director for the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University and Dr. Darrin M. Webb, senior economist with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

Jobs, and the lack thereof, continue to be a focal point for economists, legislators and other government leaders across the country. Currently, the unemployment rate in Mississippi sits at 9.6 percent according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s actually a bit below the national average of 10 percent.

“We’re in a period right now of transitioning from the federal government as a big player in the game to the private sector taking on a more prominent role,” said Altig. “And I expect that to be the big story of 2010. We will transition from a phase of losing jobs to gaining jobs as the year goes on.”

Dr. William Gunther, professor of economics and director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at Southern Miss, said several undeniable factors will continue to inhibit the state’s recovery effort.

Mississippi is going to have a struggle on its hands for a while,” said Gunther. “There’s going to be slow growth in tax revenues and because of slow growth in jobs there will be slow consumption and slow spending.

“Until consumers get their balance sheets back where they feel comfortable, they’re not going to feel safe taking a risk on a five-year loan for a new car. And banks won’t feel comfortable loaning money to anybody who may lose their job. There’s just a lot of hesitancy and that means spending is going to be a problem.”

Still, Altig sees nothing but blue skies ahead. “By this time next year we will have a much rosier picture to paint than what we have today,” he said.

To learn more about the Southern Miss Bureau of Business and Economic Research call 601-266-5049 or visit www.usm.edu/bber


CUTLINE:
Dr. David Altig, chief economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, was one of the featured speakers during the Economic Outlook for 2010 symposium held Thursday at the Thad Cochran Center on The University of Southern Mississippi campus. (Office of University Communications photo by Steve Rouse)

About The University of Southern MississippiThe University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu
                                                                           
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