The next year, according to economic seers, should be a time of relatively flat economies at both the national and local level. Overshadowing all is a widespread uncertainty about the stock market, federal monetary policy, government budget-balancing and consumer confidence.
A synthesis of several national and local economic forecasts--including by Merrill Lynch, Security Pacific and First Interstate banks, the University of Chicago, the Chapman College Center for Economic Research and Duff & Phelps--paints this picture of the coming year's economy:
A national inflation rate of about 4% (Chapman, University of Chicago).
A local inflation rate ranging from 4% (Chapman) to 5.6% (First Interstate).
A real (adjusted for inflation) Gross National Product growth of 1% (Chicago) to 2% (Duff & Phelps).
A real increase in the county's gross product of 2.4% (Chapman).
National employment up about 1%.
County employment increases ranging from 2.5%--contrasted with 3.6% estimated for this year (Chapman)--to 3.7%--contrasted with 5% this year (First Interstate).
Decreases in construction, aerospace and defense-related manufacturing employment.
Increases in retail, wholesale, services, government and transportation employment.