Notes from Madison County Business League Economic Symposium

(May 4, 2010)  I had the opportunity today to attend the Economic Symposium 2010: Economic Perspectives for Madison County, which was offered by the Madison County Business League.  Featured presenters were Dr. Phil Pepper, Assistant Commission for Policy Research and Planning for the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Dr. Marty Wiseman, Director of Mississippi State University‘s Stennis Institute of Government and David Altig, Senior Vice President and Director of Research for the Federal Reserve bank of Atlanta.  Here are my rough notes.

Dr. Phil Pepper

Things are good and going to get better for Madison County.

Things are not as good for Mississippi.  Slower growth.  More recessions.

Education is the key.  Counties with population growth have good schools.  “The primary economic development tool for any county is the education level.”

Dr. Marty Wiseman
No county in Mississippi is insulated from the international economy.

Public education is a key to economic development.  Period.

When a municipality has population growth it must keep a constant eye on annexation.

Madison County would be a prime place to have the pro and con discussion on the subject of eliminating the inventory tax.

As long as there is growth there is less need to worry about where local government revenues come from.

David Altig

The labor market is beginning to improve … employers remain reluctant to add payrolls.

Employment took a sizable step up in March.  The demand for workers appears to be improving.

If 200,000 jobs are created every month for the next 12 months it would bring the unemployment rate down by one oerscent.

Consumer spending has surprised to the upside.  Personal income growth, however, has been quite timid.

Spending on equipment and software rose rapidly in the 4th Quarter, and looks to be on a healthy pace in the 1st Quarter.

“Core” capital goods order have been rising.  Housing starts have shown modest improvement from a very low level.

Inventory adjustments are still making an outsize contribution to CDP growth, which is forecast for 2.8% in 2010.

Employment losses have been more severe in the United States than other countries.  Productivity is up in the Untied States; down everywhere else.

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