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You Decide: What
will happen to the
Our economy is very
complex with millions of
interactions and interrela
tionships. And while econo
mists' models can identify
these linkages, and maybe
even measure and calibrate
them, the conclusions are not
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ships can change over time.
Plus, economists' track record of predicting big move
ments in the direction of the economy - such as the Great
Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of the
late 2000s - is simply not very good.
So, I always try to lower the expectations of my audi
ences hoping they won't be disappointed if I'm wrong.
What I think economists are best at is identifying general
trends and raising questions about the economic future.
Therefore, with all these caveats, here are my econom
ic predictions for 2017.
First, and perhaps most important, I think 2017 will be
a growth year in the economy. By that I mean production,
sales, jobs and incomes will increase. However - it should
be clearly noted -1 mean these factors will gain in total,
but not necessarily for every person, household, business
or geographic area. Rarely do we see the economy mov
ing in the same direction for everyone and everywhere.
What about some numbers on these improvements?
Nationally, employers will add about 2.7 million jobs, a
1.9 percent gain over 2016. In North Carolina 90,000 jobs
will be added, 2 percent more than in 2016. Aggregate
production (termed gross domestic product by econo
mists) will be up 25 percent in the nation and 2.7 percent
in North Carolina. Both improvements will be better than
What about the much watched unemployment rate? In
2017, this measure actually won't be the best indicator to
track because the improving job market will motivate
some of the approximately 200,000 jobless individuals in
North Carolina who have given up on working and are not
officially counted as unemployed to start looking again.
When they do - and until they find work - they will add
to the unemployment rolls. Hence, in both the nation and
in North Carolina, the most quoted unemployment rate
will only fall from 4.9 percent to 4.6 percent.
Finally, in 2016, wage rates began to rise for workers,
increasing over 2 percent (after inflation) in the nation and
4 percent in North Carolina. I expect this trend to continue
- and perhaps improve - in 2017 for workers in the nation
and our state. The reason for the good news - a tighter
labor market, meaning employers have to compete more
rigorously both for new workers and to keep existing
What's the reason for this relative optimism for the
economy in 2017? A big reason is an anticipated fiscal
stimulus plan from the new Trump administration.
Proposals for multi-trillion-dollar tax cuts and spending
increases are likely from the new President. Even if they
are trimmed back by Congress, it's widely expected the
stimulus plan would boost the economy, particularly in the
second half of the year.
However, one downside of the stimulus program will
be an increase in federal borrowing. This, together with
other reasons, is why economists expect the price of credit
to be higher in 2017. So financing the purchase of a home,
a vehicle or other big-ticket items will cost borrowers
more in the upcoming year. But the upside of higher inter
est rates is that savers will earn more on relatively safe
investments like CDs, money market funds and govern
ment bonds. ?
With interest rates higher money will turn over faster,
and this could lead to faster price inflation in the economy.
The all-items inflation rate in 2016 came in under 2 per
cent. This rate could be nearer to 2.3 percent in 2017.
However, a higher international value of the dollar -
which some economists expect in 2017 - would decrease
the price of imports and moderate any increase in the
Speaking of trade, U.S. trade policy in 2017 is proba
bly the biggest economic unknown of die year. During the
campaign President-elect Trump talked about reducing
the trade deficit by reducing imports from other countries
and moving jobs and production from other countries to
the Uij. If this could occur with no adverse side-effects it
could be a big boost to U.S. economic growth.
The issue is how this could be done in a way that did
not result in retaliation from foreign countries. Ah estimat
ed $2.3 trillion of income and 11 million jobs in the U.S.
are supported by U.S. exports to foreign buyers. For North
Carolina, the values are $37 billion of income and
415,000 jobs. These economic impacts would be at risk in
a "trade war" where countries all around the world focus
on making imports from other countries more expensive.
Still, the consensus right now is that 2017 is looking
like a reasonably good economic year. It won't set records
for improvement, and it won't see all the economic issues
we face eliminated, but overall it will be steps forward.
You decide if this constitutes progress!
Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished
Professor and Extension Economist in the Department oj
Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina
State University who teaches and writes on personal
finance, economic outlook, and public policy.
Remember that the credit card bill is coming
received my first credit
card many years ago, when
I was a college student. I
did not apply for it nor did
I have a credit check to see
if I was eligible.
It just came to my col
lege post office box. As I
reflect now, how did they
get my name, much less
my mailing address?
It was a gasoline credit
card. That was strange
because I did not own an
automobile and had no
plans to acquire one. I was
a sophomore student at
Johnson C Smith
University in Charlotte.
So, I was a big man on
' campus, at least in my
mind, because I had a gaso
line credit card and no car.
What I found out later was
several of my college bud
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dies also had received the
same gasoline credit card.
I ended up using it a
few times to put gas in
some of my friends' cars. I
guess I was just showing
One of the interesting
things that I learned about
my gas credit card was it
had an interest rate. Further
I learned if you paid the
balance after the due date
there was a late fee added
to the original balance. I
realized early on that pay
ing off your balance on or
before the due date was a
When I graduated from
college and went to gradu
ate school, I started to
receive more credit cards
and credit card offers. I
thought to myself that these
companies are following
me. Again, I soon found
out they were "following"
a lot of my friends, too.
Another thing I learned
about credit cards is that
because they send them
doesn't mean you have to
accept them. I was proud of
myself because I returned
them to the companies.
Over time, I have
understood more and more
about credit card compa
nies and how they operate!
If we must use a credit
card let's be aware of the
interest rate. We must
know the difference
between a fixed rate of
interest and a variable rate
Stores and credit card
companies offer us some
incentives to lure new cus
tomers. For example, if you
and I apply, we'll get an
additional 5,000 points to
use toward our first pur
I don't want a credit
card company to get too
comfortable with my
patronage so every few
months I will call to check
about lower interest rates. I
will also call to let them
know about other compa
nies offering me better
interest rates. I will tell you.
that these strategies have
worked to my benefit.
Some years ago, credit
card vendors would come
onto college campuses
with all kinds of gimmicks.
For example, they would
offer students a T-shirt or a
cap if they signed up. What
many students didn't real
ize was they were going to
receive a credit card with
an extremely high interest
rate. Thankfully, this prac
tice has stopped.
I believe young con
sumers are the most vulner
able when it comes to cred
it cards. 1 also think that
online shopping has result
ed in increased credit card
use. While the online price
may be less expensive, you
will probably use a credit
card. Just remember that
the credit card bill is com
ing at the end of the month.
let's try to use cash and\or a
debit card. That will always
1 1 ? 1
ensure that we won't
receive a bill at the end of
While we may not
think about it, our children
are watching our spending
habits. Let's be good fiscal
managers and model good
credit card use for them. As
we know, they will grow
up and model our behav
1 am going to be a bet
ter credit card user. The
incentives won't sway me
to use my credit card.
Won't you join me?
James B. Ewers Jr.
EdD. is a former tennis
champion at Atkins High
School in Winston-Salem
and played college tennis
at Johnson C. Smith
University, where he was
all-conference for four
years. He a retired college
administrator. He can be
j-iign diooq pressure over tne noiiaays
life is why
SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
The holidays are all about enjoying
those you love. Oh and let's not forget
about all of the delicious food. Although,
the holidays are very exciting they can
sometimes be a little stressful at times. Did
you know that hypertension (high blood
pressure) is one of the most important
causes of premature death worldwide?
About 75 million American adults have
high blood pressure. In a study conducted
in Forsyth County 31.2 percent of respon
dents have blood pressure compared to
38.6 percent in Guilford County and 31.9
percent in Iredell County.
There are several factors that can play
a role in high blood pressure. These factors
may include smoking, unhealthy diets,
lack of physical activity, stress and genet- ;
ics. High blood pressure can be managed ;
by exercising on a regular basis, maintain
ing a heart healthy diet, limiting alcohol 1
consumption, quitting smoking, reducing i
stress and regular doctor visits. 1
Adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle will |
enable you to reduce high blood pressure, i
prevent or delay the development of high i
blood pressure, enhance the effectiveness i
of blood pressure medications, and lower ]
your risk of heart attack, heart disease,
stroke, and kidney disease.
The holidays can be extremely stress
ful because there are normally a million
hings that need to be done. Whether it is
last minute shopping, grocery store runs,
xeparing dinner, traveling, or even certain
vlatives, your blood pressure is bound to
ise. In order to manage your stress during
he holidays there are a few tips to know.
Make a planner or to-do-list so that you are
able.to prioritize And manage your time
better. Set aside your differences with your
relatives. Holidays only come once a year,
so what's a few days. Maintain your heart
healthy diet, even though it may be hard to
resist grandma's famous sweet potato pie.
Check. Change. Control is a program
designed to eliminate high blood pressure
as a health disparity among Americans.
The program allows individuals to practice
self-management skills related to blood
pressure. It engages participants by
emphasizing three important aspects of
The first is "Checking" for high blood
pressure and symptoms.
The second "Changing" lifestyle and
The third "Controlling" hypertension
by taking preventative measures.
Please also click this link for 5 Blood
Pressure Tips This Holiday Season!
http://news.heart.otg/five-blood-pres- ? j
Shakia Flythe is with the American
Heart Association in the Triad, based in