Better, but not best

People constantly ask N.C. State University economist Mike Walden where the economy is going. His answer: better, but not best.

“Well … I think what I tell them can be summed up by ‘better, but not best.’ If we look at the major economic indicators — jobs, sales, manufacturing production, spending — I think you pretty much see the same pattern: We had big, big drops in 2008, 2009, modest drops in 2010. But since 2010, we’ve had slight improvement. And I think that’s the big concern of people — that we’re not seeing big, big improvements.

“Most of the indicators are off their recessionary lows, but they’re not back to their pre-recessionary highs. And I think the single biggest reason, if I had to put my finger on one reason for this — now this is my analysis — is that it’s all related to the devastating — absolutely devastating — drop we had in household wealth as a result of the crash in real-estate. There’s been some recovery in household wealth but not nearly back to pre-recessionary levels. I think until we have that, we’re still going to have a slow moving economy.”

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