You might be like a lot of Nebraskans who never have heard the name Eric Thompson, or known that he’s a top economist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Thompson is well-known in academic circles. He’s the director of UNL’s Bureau of Business Research, and he’s the K.H. Nelson Professor of Economics at UNL.
All of those credentials might not impress average Nebraskans, but that’s OK with Thompson. He won’t hold a grudge. In fact, he’s announced a cheery bit of news as the Cornhusker State settles in for its Christmas nap.
Thompson reports that most indicators show that Nebraska’s economic growth will continue at a modest rate well into 2022.
He said Nebraska’s leading indicator rose in November, according to the most recent report from UNL. The indicator is designed to predict economic activity six months into the future, and its indicator rose by 0.96%.
That was the second consecutive month of positive motion. Thompson believes the uptick suggests moderate economic growth will continue into the second quarter of 2022.
If you’re interested to know how Thompson predicts the future, here are the variables he tracks:
Building permits for family homes,
Airline passenger counts,
Claims for unemployment insurance,
The value of the U.S. dollar, and,
Manufacturing hours worked.
Thompson said most components of the indicator rose in November.
Building permits rose for the second consecutive month. Thompson said that was a significant contributor to his projection.
“The increase in permits shows that builders plan to work through labor and supply challenges to meet strong demand,” Thompson said. There were other signs of consumer confidence. Hours worked in the manufacturing sector also rose in November, given strong demand for manufactured goods across the country.
“Business’ expectations were strong throughout the economy,” Thompson said.
Consumers remain confident, but so do business owners. They told Thompson they’re anticipating increased sales and will be staffing up during the next few months.
We appreciate consumers’ optimistic outlook. Enthusiasm is infectious. When one sector exhibits confidence, it bolsters the attitude in other sectors. As for Thompson’s prediction of “moderate” growth, we believe that slow and steady wins the race. It’s easier for businesses to scale operations to accommodate moderate growth compared to overheated, unsustainable growth.
If you want to learn more about Thompson and his economic forecast, you can visit UNL’s Bureau of Business Research at bbr.unl.edu.