Bruce Domazlicky, professor of economics and finance at the University, offered his projections at Thursday's Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce meeting. Among his numbers and graphs, Domazlicky noted the availability of affordable housing, the equitable distribution of income and high number of high school graduates in Scott County.
Starting with the nation, the economist said growth should slow during 2005. While the gross domestic product rate grew at 4 percent in 2004, this year's growth rate would likely be in the range of 3.5 percent.
"Consumers are still willing to spend," Domazlicky said. "The growing trade deficit is the only real drag on the economy."
With a falling unemployment rate (estimated at 5.3 to 5.2 percent for 2005) and an inflation rate of about 2 to 2.5 percent, Domazlicky said these figures should be manageable for the United States. "As the world economy picks up, there will be a greater demand for raw materials, gasoline, etc. which would translate into higher prices," he cautioned.
While the Federal Reserve Board has maintained a very low interest rate. The professor noted the Board has begun to hike the rate and should continue this trend.
The biggest concern, Domazlicky said, is the growing budget deficit. He also expressed worry over the falling value of the dollar and said these are problems which need to be addressed by the government.
Noting he has continually expected a slow down in the housing market, which has yet to occur, Domazlicky said the rate of construction continues to outpace the number of families in need of new homes. "Eventually there will be slow down but hopefully at a sustainable level without anything drastic happening," he added.
Bringing his graphics and comments closer to home, Domazlicky pointed out the unemployment level in Scott County is moving downward. "Compared to the counties around it, this county is doing well. This is a vibrant economy," he said.
Personal income, which Domazlicky described as the best measure of a region's economy, is moving up in Scott County. "Sometime late last year Scott County became a billion dollar economy," he said. "That is a good size economy to say the least."
Other numbers noted by the economist included the county's 15,800 household and low number of households headed by a single mother compared to surrounding counties. He pointed out income is distributed evenly among the population with a majority earning $15,000 to $74,500.
Most Scott County residents earn their living through sales and office jobs followed by production (only 228 persons in the county list their occupation as farming). While 18,000 Scott County residents say they commute to work, 11,300 stay in the county with 4,100 traveling to Cape Girardeau County and another 1,200 heading south into New Madrid County. The numbers commuting into Scott County include 3,400 from Mississippi County, 1,300 from Cape Girardeau County and approximately 1,200 each from New Madrid and Stoddard counties.
For those who make Scott County their home, Domazlicky called housing costs very reasonable with 70 percent of the homes costing $100,000 or less.
Chamber Executive Director Missy Marshall advised the membership the Business Expo is scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Sikeston Field House. Currently 31 businesses have indicated they are going to participate and there is room for more, she said. Those wishing to take part should notify the Chamber office by Feb. 11.
The Downtown Business Association, which has reorganized as part of the Chamber, will meet at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Sikeston City Council Chambers. Experts from the state will be on hand to discuss revitalization ideas and funding possibilities.