Choppy Waters Still Ahead for the Economy

Originally published on May 19, 2023, by Kathryn Hamilton for NAIOP.

Opening with an image of a sailboat, National Forums Symposium keynote Heidi Learner said the photo captures the whipsaw tone of economic news today, with sudden shifts in unexpected directions.

Learner is head of innovation with Altus Labs and spoke to 800+ NAIOP National Forums members this week during their annual meeting in Boston. Here are some key takeaways from her remarks:

  • Unemployment has hit 50-year lows, but payroll additions are slowing and we’re not creating jobs at the same pace. Inflation remains high but has dropped from the 9.1% peak seen last summer.  
  • Real (inflation-adjusted) spending in April 2020 was 18% lower than in February 2020; but by March 2021, it had returned to February’s level. The outlook for spending is key because consumer spending is approximately two-thirds of total economic output.
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