Lubbock is often teased for its landscape with few hills, rivers or even large trees to speak of. But, no one makes fun of our economy. More evidence that it is holding up quite well came from Lubbock's Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) at its annual Economic Forecast Luncheon Wednesday.
More than 300 business and community leaders listened to the 2009-2010 economic forecasts for Lubbock. Overall, the national outlook is grim. Experts say this year will feel like a depression we have never seen before. While some of that pain will be felt here in Lubbock, those presenting Wednesday say they are continually optimistic for the Hub City's future.
While many cities across the country continue to report job loss, the Hub City is expected to see new ones created. "We're going to see positive job growth for 2009. Retail sales will be on the positive side one more year," Chief Economist for Angelou Economics, Angelos Angelou said.
Angelou says it's because of Lubbock's slow and steady growth pattern. "Lubbock has never been an economy that has grown too fast and there for it's not likely to see its economy growth to be halved or turn negative, just like many other places around the country," Angelou said.
According to the Texas Work Force Commission, unemployment for Lubbock was at 4.1 percent in November. However, statewide that number jumps to 5.7 percent.
Nationally it's a much bleaker story. A staggering 2.6 million jobs were lost last year, the most since World War II, and those numbers are expected to increase. "We'll be on our way to losing at least 2 million more within the first half of the year. It's going to feel like a depression," Angelou said.
Lubbock is not immune; people are losing jobs here too, but LEDA CEO Gary Lawrence says about 1,000 jobs still need to be filled. "As long as we can keep creating jobs we're strong. That's the key because we'll adsorb people that get laid off if they want to work, Angelou said.
Angelou says Lubbock's strength comes from Texas Tech, which last year had an increase in students. He also predicts more new jobs to blow in, as wind energy takes off. "The greatest days for economic development lies ahead because I think it will centrally capitalize on and will become the largest hub of renewable energy in the state of Texas," Angelou adds.
Angelou predicts about one thousand news jobs for Lubbock this year. He also says we will see about a 1 percent growth rate, which is close to the average.
|The Better Business Bureau|