Business Economists Predict Modest Growth in Real GDP

By May 21, 2013Economy, General

Business economists expect real GDP growth of 2.4 percent in 2013, with slightly faster growth of 3.0 percent in 2014. The May Outlook Survey from the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) found that output estimates for this year and next have not changed from what was predicted three months ago in the February survey.

Beyond the headline figure, there were improvements in some of the key components of GDP. Specifically, respondents expect improved consumer spending (2.3 percent in 2013), residential investment (15.0 percent), nonresidential structure investment (4.6 percent), and business inventories. Regarding the housing sector growth rate, new residential starts are expected to average 1 million in 2013, rising to 1.18 million in 2014. In contrast to these positive contributors to real GDP, shrinking government budgets are expected to fall by 2.3 percent in 2013 and 0.9 percent in 2014, suggesting that they will continue to be a drag on growth.

Industrial productoin should increase 3.1 percent in 2013 and 3.5 percent in 2014. This would suggest a pickup from the most recent year-over-year growth rate of  1.3 percent.

Businesses are expected to add 168,000 nonfarm payroll workers per month in 2013, increasing to 198,000 per month in 2014. This modest growth in hiring, though, is not anticipated to bring the unemployment rate down much from its current 7.5 percent rate, with business economists forecasting the unemployment rate to average 7.1 percent in 2014.

On financial matters, business economists say that pricing pressures shuld be modest, up 1.8 percent in 2013 and 2.0 percent in 2014. Each of these numbers are slightly lower than what was forecast in February, most likely due to lower energy costs in the most recent data. More importantly, they are also consistent with the Federal Reserve’s stated goal of keeping inflation at or below 2 percent. Oil prices are predicted to average $93 per barrel in 2013 and $95 per barrel next year.

Chad Moutray is the chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers. Note that he is also a former board member of NABE and a current participant in NABE’s Outlook Survey.

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray is chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), where he serves as the NAM’s economic forecaster and spokesperson on economic issues. He frequently comments on current economic conditions for manufacturers through professional presentations and media interviews. He has appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox Business and Fox News, among other news outlets.
Chad Moutray

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