Regionomics owner Bill LaFayette released his 20th annual economic outlook for the Columbus-area at Wednesday’s Columbus Metropolitan Club forum.
He expects 2019 to be the region’s 10th consecutive year of growth.
“Like 2018 though, we should do less well than the national average and possibly less well than Ohio," Lafayette said. “My forecast expects a gain of 1.2%, something like 13,000 net new jobs. This is by far my weakest forecast since the recession, but keep in mind that it’s stronger growth than any year between 2003 and 2007.”
LaFayette called workforce availability the fundamental problem facing the region, and he suggested a focus on education.
“We pride ourselves that our share of college degree holders is greater than the national average,” he said. “That’s true, but we are significantly lower than metros such as Austin, Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, and Seattle. We also need to emphasize technical programs. People with a high school diploma and a technical credential are far better off than those with a high school diploma and no technical credential. This effort to prioritize educational attainment includes doing everything we possibly can to make these programs accessible and affordable to a very broad audience.”
Areas showing the most job growth in 2019 under LaFayette’s forecast include the transportation and utilities, education and health services, and financial activities sectors. He anticipates the sharpest decline of 1.6% in administrative support within the professional and business services sector.