The Northeast Ohio economy should grow modestly this year, much as it did in 2016.
So says the latest market outlook released Thursday by PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh.
“The regional economy is steadily inching forward as it overcomes major drags in its key manufacturing industry,” PNC said.
Report highlights include:
•?Health care, finance and professional services industries will add to economic growth.
•?Higher energy prices are helping stabilize some factories as investment returns to the Utica shale region.
•?Higher steel tariffs and stabilizing steel demand are helping local steelmakers.
•?Auto sales, including high demand for light trucks, SUVs and crossovers, are expected to have their best year on record and therefore benefit the region’s auto supply chain companies.
•?Cheaper gasoline coupled with slowing demand for fuel-efficient cars will hurt the Youngstown area; there already have been employment and production cuts at General Motors’ Lordstown plant where the compact Chevrolet Cruze is made.
•?Upside risks include Washington-based tax cuts and boosts to infrastructure spending.
•?Downside risks include a strong dollar and trade protectionism that could hurt exports.
•?Continued population loss will hurt Northeast Ohio job growth. Population loss also hurts, among other things, demand for housing. On the plus side, out-migration appears to be moderating.
•?Natural gas extraction from the Utica shale will generate jobs, income and tax revenue.
•?Fledgling manufacturing hubs for the machinery of new energy technologies and transportation equipment hold promise.
•?The region’s lower costs and availability of underutilized resources will help attract new industries and opportunities.
•?Median household income will grow from an estimated $49,800 in 2016 to $50,700 this year. The region’s median income currently is about 9 percent lower than the nation’s.