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Lancaster County Economy “Still Not Back” to Pre-Recession Levels…. Is that All Bad?

The National Association of Counties recently released its “County Economic Tracker 2014, Progress through Adversity” report and the headline is not good for Lancaster County. But upon further analysis I’m not so sure that I agree 100%.

The report looks at four areas: jobs; unemployment rate; GDP; and home prices.

The report states that the Lancaster County Economy remains behind in all four areas. I believe that in many respects that’s good. Here’s why.

  • Home Prices – It seems to me that overinflated home prices was a contributing factor in the recession (or mess as I like to call it) in the first place. Home prices are recovering – just not at pre-recession levels. I’d argue that’s better than if prices were back to those levels. Slower, incremental growth works for me in this area.
  • GDP – OK – this is one I’d like back at pre-recession levels. However – the forecasters I follow are all looking for smaller growth in the near term. Growth still works for me.

Now on to my specific area of expertise:

  • Job Growth & Unemployment Rate – I’m lumping the other two indicators of the report into one bullet. Lancaster County’s pre-recession unemployment rate was 3.6%. I’ve said this before – that’s too low. That number basically represents full employment – and is restrictive to companies looking to grow. Lancaster sits at 4.1%. We’re close. If you’re reading this you’re probably in the same boat we are here at TriStarr – it’s really hard to identify candidates for open positions. It’s our JOB and it’s hard. Now – for us this is good for business so I’m not complaining. More and more of you are turning to us to help you find and hire talent. However – it slows your growth, and does cost you money. And on this one folks I have to tell you – all the signs and forecasts I follow say we’re in for a tough hiring market for a while.

So – I don’t think we’re doing all that bad locally. Slower increases in housing prices and GDP growth means a softer fall in the inevitable next recession. And for me – a tough job market means our services are more and more necessary and cost effective. If you’re looking for people contact us. And don’t call me with the easy stuff (anyone can do that). Call us with the hard stuff. You’ll be glad you did.

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