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Economy & Business

Cold Economic Start To 2015 Ends With Slow, Strong Uptick

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After a rough start in 2015, the nation's economy is set to end the year in a fairly strong position, PNC Chief Economist Stuart Hoffman said.

“But it clearly was a mixed picture,” Hoffman said. “If you were in manufacturing, the global economy grew more slowly, the dollar was strong. If you were in energy, it was a bad year for you."

The service industry, airlines, automotives and housing all faired well, Hoffman said. He had predicted an interest rate increase in the late second quarter or early third quarter. The Federal Reserve raised that rate by a quarter of a percent in December.

More rate increases are widely expected in 2016.

The numbers for the fourth quarter 0f 2015 are not yet in, but Hoffman said he expects to see 2.4 million jobs created nationally. Wages, which had been stalled through much of the first part of the year, will be up in 2015 by about 2 percent. 

Locally, Hoffman generally saw good jobs numbers in southwestern Pennsylvania, he said. Job growth in the region should come in at 15,000 new jobs in 2015, and wages also began to get out of the slump they had been in throughout 2013 and 2014.

“Outside the energy area we saw a nice pick up in construction, in technology and even parts of higher-tech manufacturing … The unemployment here is going to end the year around 5 percent,” Hoffman said. 

Hoffman said he sees the drop in personal and business bankruptcies in 2015 as a good sign for the region’s economy.