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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Federal Shutdown Clouds Otherwise Optimistic Regional Picture

While 2018 was the year Hampton Roads appeared to pull out of a decade-long economic malaise, the lingering federal shutdown - the longest in history - is just one example of how tenuous this period of growth can be.

Economists from Old Dominion University's Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy will deliver their annual Hampton Roads Economic Forecast, as part of the Chamber Strome Business Series, on Wednesday.

Vinod Agarwal, a professor of economics who has been involved with ODU's Economic Forecasting Project since its inception more than 20 years ago, will deliver the forecast for Hampton Roads. Robert McNab, director of the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, will deliver the state and national forecasts.

The event runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside, 777 Waterside Drive, Norfolk. Register ONLINE or by calling (757) 664-2518.

In addition to being co-hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and ODU's Dragas Center, the Hampton Roads Economic Forecast is sponsored by Chartway Credit Union.

The annual forecasts are traditionally a respected, accurate harbinger of the year ahead for the region and the country. The national forecasts are included in a macroeconomic analysis produced every quarter by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Agarwal said the 2019 Hampton Roads report offers better news than some recent years, but also a caution. "The increase in Department of Defense spending has helped our region, but there are challenges ahead," Agarwal said, noting that the federal shutdown is an example of how uncertainty can affect economic forecasts and growth.

McNab is forecasting slower growth for the United States and Virginia in 2019 due to trade conflicts, political uncertainty and a decline in business and consumer confidence. "The odds of a recession have increased sharply over the last three months," McNab said, "in part due to volatility in stock markets and the self-inflicted economic wound of the partial government shutdown."

The statewide and national forecasts will also explore questions such as whether Amazon will lift economic growth in Virginia, the prospects for interest rate increases in 2019 and how worrisome the federal deficit should be for economic growth.

In addition to the annual Economic Forecast, the Dragas Center produces the agenda-shaping State of the Region and State of the Commonwealth reports. All reports are available on the Dragas Center WEBSITE.

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