Economic experts forecast slow, sustained economic growth to continue in Arizona and across the nation during 2018. Unemployment is expected to continue to decline with the rate potentially dropping below 4 percent nationally next year. Arizona’s unemployment rate is also forecast to drop, with the majority of employment growth centralized in the Greater Phoenix region.

Economic experts Elliott Pollack, CEO of Elliott D. Pollack & Company, Jim Huntzinger, executive vice president & chief investment officer of BOK Financial and Stacey Vanek Smith, a reporter with NPR’s Planet Money presented their assessments of the state, local and international economies during the Economic Outlook 2018 forecast event Sept. 29 presented by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce (GPCC) and Cox Communications at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix. 

Arizona Economy – Elliott Pollack (View/download complete slideshow presentation)

Pollack expects to see continued employment growth centered on the Phoenix area and continued population growth at rates that are satisfactory but below historic norms. Pollack also expects a continued housing market recovery as Millennials start buying houses. Tax policy will also influence the growth rate.

“The Arizona economy should be more of the same. We could get a little increase in growth depending on the extent of the tax cuts and the extent of the infrastructure spending Trump has been promising,” Pollack said. “Assuming we get a corporate tax cut, some tax reform and some infrastructure spending, there’s reason to believe the economy will continue to grow, perhaps a little more rapidly next year.”

National Economy – Jim Huntzinger (View complete slideshow presentation)

Huntzinger forecasts a continued national economic growth rate of 1.5 percent to 2 percent overall with low interest rates continuing and dropping unemployment, possibly below 4 percent. He also highlights the federal tax plan as an area that could help the economy next year. 

“Looking forward, we would expect things to slow down a bit. One thing that could help that is the tax plan that’s currently being discussed in Washington. If it passed in its current form, it would be supportive for the markets and 2018 could be a better year than what we expect it to be right now,” Huntzinger said.

Global Economy – Stacey Vanek Smith

Vanek Smith focused on the value of free trade policies and discussed how geopolitical circumstances will likely play a large role in the direction of the economies of countries and those with whom they do business. 

“In 2018 it does look like we are poised for more growth, it looks like trade is expanding and industries are starting to grow again. That said, there’s also a lot changing geopolitically, and I think that could definitely effect how different countries’ economies grow,” Vanek Smith said.

Overall, Pollack sees a number of growing industries in Arizona, including health care and professional services, as continuing to drive the economy in 2018.    

“What’s been growing is professional services, leisure and hospitality, education and health services and financial activities,” Pollack said. “Those will continue to be the mainstay of economic growth both nationally and certainly in Arizona.”