Economist says Williamson County economy expected to outpace nation


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Georgetown Economic Development SymposiumEconomist Chris Chmura (right) discusses the economy during the inaugural Georgetown Economic Development Symposium on Nov. 29.Courtesy Garrett Dollar
Georgetown Economic Development Symposium

The Williamson County and national economies are expected to continue to grow and at a higher rate under President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, according to economist Christine Chmura.

Chmura spoke during the city of Georgetown Economic Development Department’s inaugural Economic Development Symposium on Nov. 29 to a crowd of more than 160 Central Texas elected officials and business leaders. The event was held at the Sheraton Georgetown Texas Hotel and Conference Center.

The event, titled “The Election Economy,” focused on the current state of the economy and the effects the new administration in Washington, D.C. could have post-election.

Chmura said Trump’s plans to cut corporate taxes and regulations is expected to stimulate business investment, increase productivity growth, increase corporate profits and decrease the price of oil. His plans to cut individual income taxes could also increase spending; however, some individuals could choose to increase savings or pay off debt, she said.

“Short term, we feel pretty good about our forecast of seeing the U.S. economy growing faster in 2018, starting in mid- to late 2017 at a faster past,” she said.

Faster growth of the economy could also put upward pressure on wages, she said.

If the status quo continued, Chmura said the country’s gross domestic product, or GDP, would grow by 2.4 percent in 2017 and 2.7 percent in 2018; however, under the new administration that GDP growth is estimated to be 3 percent in 2017 and 3.9 percent in 2018.

However, Chmura said the long-term outlook is more uncertain.

“[In] 2019-20, I think we have to wait and see how these tax reductions play out,” she said. “Some economists worry that he is not going to be able to decrease the deficit. … The Trump view … is that trade, regulatory and energy reform increases economic growth and revenue enough to offset much of revenue losses from tax reductions.”

Other economic indicators, including personal consumption expenditures and the consumer price index, are expected to increase under the new administration as well, Chmura said.

“Overall, we see the Trump administration giving the economy a lift, [but] there are always risks,” she said. “Good news, it looks like we are going to see some nice growth next year.”

Chmura said the economic outlook for Texas and Williamson County was even better. The county’s employment growth is expected to continue to outpace the nation’s job growth.

As of September, Williamson County’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent rate.

The county is expected to add more than 58,000 jobs in the next 10 years on top of the more than 172,000 existing jobs, which is a 3 percent growth rate, she said.

In the past five years, Chmura said the county has added more than 5,700 health care jobs and more than 5,400 manufacturing jobs.

“This is unheard of—in just about any other area that you go to manufacturing is either flat or declining,” she said.

Chmura said retail was the fastest growing sector followed by health care and educational services.

“We expect [Williamson County] to outpace the state and also outpace the Round Rock [Metropolitan Statistical Area] in the next 10 years and outpace the nation at least three-fold,” Chmura said.