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Published: Thursday, 9/16/2010

Moderate recovery projected for region

BY SHEENA HARRISON
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Metro Toledo and the nation's economy are expected to experience a "moderate, sustained recovery" in the next year, said Stuart Hoffman, senior vice president and chief economist with PNC Financial Services Group.

But he cautions that the projected rebound will be sluggish.

The economy "is clearly going to go at a much slower pace back up than … the deep hole with which the economy went down," Mr. Hoffman said Wednesday during the fourth annual Ohio Conference on Freight at Dana Conference Center in South Toledo.

Mr. Hoffman projected metro Toledo will lose 1.2 percent of jobs in 2010, compared with no job growth projected nationwide next year.

However, the region is expected to experience 1.1 percent job growth in 2011, compared with a projected 2 percent increase for the nation that same year.

Toledo's unemployment rate is expected to decrease in the next couple years, with a projected rate of 12.2 percent through 2010 and 11.5 percent in 2011.

That is still higher than the expected national unemployment rate of 9.7 percent through this year and 9.3 percent in 2011, he said.

Local jobs are expected to develop in the automotive, health care, service, and retail sectors, Mr. Hoffman said.

It will take at least five years for Toledo and other Midwest cities to recover a significant amount of jobs lost in the recent recession.

"We're probably in year one right now," he said.

PNC also projects a "flat to moderate" increase in local housing prices. Metro Toledo home prices are expected to decrease by 0.3 percent through this year, but increase by 2.5 percent in 2011.

That's compared to 2.1 percent growth expected nationwide this year and 2.6 percent growth next year.

Up to 200 economic development leaders, government officials and business executives registered for the freight conference, held Tuesday and Wednesday. The event was organized the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, the Ohio Department of Transportation, and the National Association of Regional Councils.

Council President Anthony Reams said the conference is meant to spur discussion about bolstering metro Toledo's and Ohio's transportation and freight economies.

Key locally is CSX Corp.'s planned $18 million intermodal project near North Baltimore and a $12 million redevelopment of Norfolk Southern Corp.'s Airline Junction Intermodal Facility in Toledo.

"They recognize the importance of this area for moving goods through the eastern part of the country," Mr. Reams said.

Contact Sheena Harrison at:

sharrison@theblade.com

or 419-724-6103



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