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The Indiana Chamber of Commerce (Southwest) hosts an annual event – The Economic Outlook Luncheon - where an invited group of panelists discusses the economic outlook for the global, national, Indiana, and Evansville economies.

Panelists on stage

Dr. Sudesh Mujumdar, chair of economics and marketing and professor of economics, served on this year’s panel and made the following key points about the Evansville economy:

  1. The actual unemployment rate for the Evansville area for 2018 (3.0%) turned out to be lower than the forecast (3.4%) driven, largely, by a higher-than-expected robust growth in the national economy.
  2. For 2019, the unemployment rate for the Evansville area is forecasted to drop slightly to 2.8% driven by manufacturing-plant expansions and new business investment in the plastics and health industries.
  3. The McBucks Index – ratio of McDonalds stores to Starbucks stores – developed by Dr. Perry Burnett and USI economics majors Travis Brooks and Patrick Bassett – revealed that the quality of life in the Evansville area has experienced significant improvement, as reflected in the sharp drop of this ratio from 3.6 in 2010 to 2.0 in 2018. Evansville exhibited the biggest improvement in quality of life compared to other Indiana cities of a similar size. (The McBucks Index is founded on location theory and is strongly correlated with traditional quality of life and business environment indices. The research underlying the development of the McBucks Index has been published in a top journal in the field of interdisciplinary social science).
  4. Going forward, the Evansville economy faces some serious challenges in retaining home-grown talent. Of the 5,700 jobs that are projected to be created in the Evansville MSA in the next 5 years, more than 60% of the jobs will pay less than the current average wage of $20/hr. To address this challenge, it was recommended that local firms create entry-level positions and invest in nurturing local talent.

Published November 30, 2018