HARTINGTON — The economic outlook across the United States is not good but Nebraska looks better than a lot of states.
Dr. Ken Lemke talked here Thursday about the 2013 national economic outlook and for Nebraska. He also talked about the trends affecting rural Nebraska.
The slow growth in the U.S. economy is expected to continue through the remainder of 2012.
Unless Congress acts quickly to resolve the fiscal decline – the negative growth is likely to continue during the first half of 2013, according to Lemke.
“I am waiting to see the outcome of the election,” Lemke said. “If the people who are elected do not do anything — the outlook is really bad.”
Lemke estimates next year, families will have an average of $85 less to spend each month.
“If nothing happens – we will be in a serious recession,” he said. “Most of us believe it won’t be that bad. We think Congress will do something – we just don’t know what they will do.”
Lemke wants businesses to get back to doing what they normally do – create jobs.
The U.S. economy is unlikely to see rapid job growth until the housing industry begins a robust recovery.
Lemke believes it will be a slow trek and could take a couple of years before the economy is back to normal.
Nebraska has done exceedingly well compared to other areas in the U.S., according to Lemke.
The main reason for the bright outlook here is because of agriculture — the number one industry in the state.
“Finance, transportation, and many of our industries are tied to ag. Last year was a monster year for farm income – 2011 was a record year,” Lemke said.
The drought lowered Nebraska’s 2012 net farm income projections, but irrigated producers and dry land producers with crop insurance should still do fairly well, Lemke said.
Estimates for Nebraska in 2013 are still looking good – unless another drought occurs.
The demand from other countries for ag products in Nebraska has been growing.
The unemployment rate for Nebraska is one of the lowest rates in the nation.
A lot of the manufacturing in the state involves food processing and machinery.
According to Lemke, there were some increases in jobs during the past year but it could be 2015 before the state can get back to the point it was at with jobs.
“Our problem isn’t so much having jobs as it is a lack of people,” Lemke said.
Lemke did not have any quick answers as to what could be done in order to draw people to the rural area and to be able to keep the young people here who are growing up in this area.