Assessing the national, state and local economy was the focus of the seventh annual Economic Conference on Friday at Central Texas College’s Anderson Campus Center.
The conference, hosted by the Fort Hood Economic Region, featured the Perryman Group founder and economist M. Ray Perryman.
The Fort Hood Economic Region, which is comprised of organizations within Belton’s Economic Development Corporation, the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce and Workforce Solutions of Central Texas, brought hundreds of listeners to hear Perryman’s views of the economy.
Wallace Vernon, of Killeen, said he came to hear the prognostication of the local economy.
“(Dr. Perryman) has been fairly accurate in his career,” Vernon said after the event. “I think, like he said, we escaped the recession in the Central Texas area.”
Sandra Russell, executive assistant for the Workforce Solutions, said she knew Texas’ economy is better than other states because of where she works.
However, Russell said she was interested in hearing Perryman’s views.
“He gives us a little hope in Central Texas,” Russell said.
Perryman said the local area is ahead of the national trend.
Temple’s health sector continues to grow along with the distribution sector, and the military remains strong with other industries supporting it, Perryman said.
He said the economic forecast for the area is the employment rate will grow at 2 percent a year, with an output of 4 percent.
“That’ll get you well ahead of the United States,” Perryman said.
The key for the next 20 years for Texas is to continue to have infrastructure such as highways and water to support growth and to have smart, well-trained, well-educated individuals who can keep up with the modern, global, technological society, he said.
In assessing the nation’s economy, Perryman said it’s been a 60-month recovery from recession.
Last month, the country was finally able to get back the number of jobs lost during the recession, he said.
The nervousness of the unknown is starting to dwindle, Perryman said, adding it hurts the economy when money is “sitting” and not building factories, hiring people, making new products or taking risks.
“When people are nervous, they don’t do anything, and economy needs to do something,” he said.
As for the state economy, Texas lost 400,000 jobs during the recession, Perryman said.
The amount was not as bad as other parts of the country, and the state has since tripled to gain back those jobs, he said.
Texans have learned since the 1973 oil embargo, the 1982 oil bust and loss in oil production from 1973-2008, Perryman said. Shale drilling and technology have also helped, he said.
“We’re not as vulnerable,” Perryman said.