Projections for Southeast Missouri's 2007 economy good despite slow movement during third quarter

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Although the national economy slowed in the third quarter, the outlook for Southeast Missouri in 2007 remains positive.

"The projections for 2007 are very good," said John Mehner, president and CEO of the Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce. "The numbers may not be as high, but we will be solid here."

Mehner said new manufacturers and companies such as Signature Packaging and the NARS call center will contribute to the area's growing economy.

During the third quarter of 2006, the slight decline in economic growth caused projections for 2007 to be lower than expected. According to the Southeast Missouri Business Indicators Winter 2007 edition provided by Southeast Missouri State University's Center for Economic and Business Research, the national economy slowed to an average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent. This was half a percentage point less than the previous quarter's growth rate.

Contributing factors

Several things contributed to the slowing economy, including the slumping housing industry, high energy prices and interest rates and slowing consumer spending.

Dr. Bruce Domazlicky, director of Southeast Missouri State University's Center for Business and Economic Research, said the effects of the national decline are limited in Southeast Missouri. Personal income remained strong, growing at a 7 percent rate, while retail sales were up 3.2 percent compared to the previous 12 months.

Southeast Missouri did see a decline in employment by about 1 percent over the previous quarter. According to the publication, most counties in the region experienced a decline in employment.

"Businesses aren't expanding with as much force as in the past," Domazlicky said. "The employment growth is slower than it has been in the past."

Companies are finding the need to reduce their numbers as a result of the national economy, as well. Wednesday Havco Wood Products in Cape Girardeau announced cutbacks due to declining demand in the trucking industry.

The publication predicts that positive seasonal factors and a stabilizing national economy will contribute to an increase in employment growth during the fourth quarter which will push total employment back up to over 400,000 from about 398,000.

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