The four Indiana University business professors on Indiana University South Bend’s Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics Business Outlook Panel predicted moderate growth for the state and local economy in 2018.
Teacher’s Credit Union sponsored the annual event held on the IU South Bend campus. “We appreciate the generous support Teacher’s Credit Union provides for this event,” said Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics Dean Rick Kolbe. “TCU is an outstanding partner with the Leighton School and in the Michiana community.”
The four panelist said they expect the economy to continue its slow but steady rate of growth, and don’t foresee an imminent downturn in 2018.
Hong Zhuang, director of IUSB’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said South Bend-Mishawaka and the Elkhart-Goshen have experienced notable growth in gross domestic product this year, accompanied by falling unemployment rates and rising average wages.
But the last year also experienced a shift in where workers are employed in each region.
In the South Bend-Mishawaka region, about 1,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost so far in 2017, where job growth has come in sectors including private education and health services.
By contrast, the ongoing resurgence of the RV and automotive industries in the Elkhart-Goshen region has resulted in 4,900 new manufacturing jobs this year.
“My prediction for 2018 would be pretty consistent with the state and national forecasts,” Zhuang said. “We can expect moderate growth in South Bend-Mishawaka and Elkhart-Goshen.”
In terms of statewide projections, the message was about the same from IU Kelley School of Business lecturer Brian Callahan.
“There are good fundamentals driving the Indiana economy,” Callahan said. “The state is fairly close to full employment.”
Those fundamentals include one of the nation’s strongest manufacturing sectors and the nation’s largest private sector as a percentage of the total state economy, 91 percent private and only 9 percent government.
“The question becomes as we go forward, if you think long term, where are our jobs and our employers going to come from to continue to support growth,” Callahan said. “Part of the future that Indiana needs to invest in is finding different ways to attract young workers.”