It was a full house in the Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom for the 14th annual Economic Breakfast, the first in-person breakfast in two years.
More than 50 guests gathered to hear the forecast delivered by Simon Medcalfe, Ph.D., Augusta University’s Cree-Walker Chair and professor of economics.
Inflation is 6.6% in the South and has become a concern for policymakers and economists. Medcalfe said the Federal Reserve Bank has been more concerned over the past two years of reaching maximum employment rather than controlling inflation through its monetary policy. “I’m of the opinion that inflation is more persistent than transitory. I think, next year, inflation will come down,” he said.
Medcalfe said the leisure and hospitality sector for the Augusta metropolitan area lost a lot of jobs due to the pandemic and has not yet recovered all of those losses. Retail is the bright spot in the local economy at record levels of employment.
“If you look at employment overall for the year, almost flat line, no increase in total employment,” he said. “We’re still sitting about 6,000 off of our pre-pandemic peak.”
Medcalfe also fielded questions about the minimum wage and the impact of Amazon’s recently-opened local warehouse.
The 2020 breakfast, canceled due to COVID-19, was replaced by a series of YouTube videos.
Support for the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast is provided by the Wells Fargo Bank Endowment.