Dr. Roger Tutterow told the Sandy Springs/Perimeter Chamber of Commerce that the economy is on the rebound, but not back to pre-Recession levels.
During his April 15 remarks at the group’s regular breakfast meeting, he discussed the national and local economy. Tutterow teaches economics at Mercer University and also works as a consultant for corporate clients.
The inability of the economy to add jobs to bring the employment rolls back to pre-Recession levels points to a deeper issue, Tutterow said.
“Now, five years after we started into this downturn, we are still over 2 million [jobs] below where we were,” he said. “The problem with this economy is that asset prices remain subdued, employment has not come back to pre-Recession levels, and thus we cannot slight the household sector for being less than enthusiastic about the pace of their own spending.”
It’s a mixed bag of economic news, but he said the Perimeter market can find comfort in its decline in office vacancies and its ability to sell homes.
“In terms of the office market, we are seeing improvements and, probably, here in the corridor, we’re seeing the rates come down the quickest,” Tutterow said.
Housing has also shown signs of improvement in the Perimeter market, he said.
“If you’re on the northern doughnut, reasonably close to I-285, in a good school district, you can sell them as fast as you can build them right now,” Tutterow said. “The problem is can they get the financing to build the homes.”
Tutterow said political brinksmanship on the country’s debt was like a gut-punch to consumer confidence, in 2011 sending levels to where they were during some of the darkest days of the Recession.
“My argument was that Main Street America, Main Street Georgia, Main Street Atlanta, lost confidence in the governments and Europe and in the U.S. to get their fiscal house in order,” Tutterow said.
“The political games we played in terms of threatening to default on our treasury obligations, threatening to shut down the government, caused household confidence to plummet.”
Tutterow said home prices are up 13 percent, but are still 27 percent lower prior to where they were before the “correction in the housing market.”
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Tutterow said.