I’m getting ready to leave my hotel room in Appleton, Wis. where, despite the early departure of the Packers from the NFL playoffs, the people are friendly, the cheese is tasty and the news is good. The local Grubb & Ellis office held its seventh annual forecast event yesterday evening, setting an attendance record. The recession was generally milder across Wisconsin thanks to the state’s manufacturing sector, which is benefiting from exports and strong growth in business capital spending. Click here to read a short article on the manufacturing sector released by Grubb & Ellis earlier this week.
Along with our local speakers, I shared the podium with Dr. Mark Eppli, Professor of Finance and Bell Chair in Real Estate at Marquette University. Dr. Eppli noted that the consensus forecast for U.S. GDP growth of 2.2 percent this year appears to be low. Right on cue, the lead story in the USA Today left on my doorstep this morning says, “A persistent drumbeat of unexpectedly positive job-market developments is leading to revised economic forecasts…” The latest such development is the decline in initial jobless claims to 358,000 for the week ending February 4. The four-week moving average, which smooths out the weekly volatility, is at its lowest level since April 26, 2008. Click here to read the full article.
There’s more good news in Section B, where the lead story, “Americans are making more these days,” says that median household income surged by a robust 4 percent in the last four months of 2011. Click here for the full article.
The growing manufacturing sector, increased hiring and faster income growth are excellent news for commercial real estate, specifically the industrial, office and retail sectors, respectively. Economic headwinds remain, notably the unresolved European debt crisis, the weak housing market and high levels of public debt. But the U.S. economy appears to be shaking off these constraints and could be poised for a cycle of stronger growth, prompting economists to mark up their forecasts.
Have a great weekend.
SVP, Chief Economist
Grubb & Ellis
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