Times Board of Economists: Sector by sector

CASINOS: Mature industry looks for a competitive edge

CASINOS: Mature industry looks for a competitive edge

The gaming industry in Indiana continues to be affected by trends both national and regional, with casino operators keeping a wary eye on new competition from neighboring states.

GROCERY: Grocery stores dealing with tighter household budgets

GROCERY: Grocery stores dealing with tighter household budgets

Grocery stores have been getting by, but face headwinds that include fierce competition and increasingly cost-conscious customers.

RETAIL: Outlook looking up in retail

RETAIL: Outlook looking up in retail

The retail sector is on an upward climb, with buyers looking to national economic health as their cue.

NONPROFITS: Donations expected to grow; needs persist

NONPROFITS: Donations expected to grow; needs persist

Philanthropic donations are expected to grow in the next six months, in what will be a long return to donor levels before 2008-09, said Harry Vande Velde III, president and CEO of Legacy Foundation.

BANKING: Banks making home loans, but hoping for higher employment

BANKING: Banks making home loans, but hoping for higher employment

Consumer sentiment has been improving, but the economy still has weakness, a Northwest Indiana banker said.

FUEL: High prices pinching gas station owners

FUEL: High prices pinching gas station owners

High gas prices have squeezed the wholesale and retail gasoline industries, said Tom Collins, the chief executive officer of Luke Oil.

AGRICULTURE: Promising quarter for local farmers

AGRICULTURE: Promising quarter for local farmers

This year stands to be a profitable one for local farmers, in terms of crop yields and high commodity prices.

HEALTH CARE: Health care law uncertainty fogs sector

HEALTH CARE: Health care law uncertainty fogs sector

A national feeling of uncertainty about the continued roll out of the Affordable Care Act, especially as the individual mandate portion goes into effect Jan. 1, has trickled down to the local level.

TRANSPORTATION: Mixed resuilts for people, freight carriers

More commuters took the South Shore in both May and June as compared to a year ago, providing hope the commuter railroad may soon see a ridership turnaround.

GOVERNMENT: Lake Co. income tax will hit paychecks in October

GOVERNMENT: Lake Co. income tax will hit paychecks in October

Lake County taxpayers will begin feeling the pain this October, when the county's first-ever income tax hits paychecks.

EDUCATION: Higher ed enrollment remains steady

EDUCATION: Higher ed enrollment remains steady

Enrollment remains strong at local institutes of higher learning, following a swell of people returning to college when the market collapsed in 2008.

STEEL: Global conditions have been challenging for steelmakers

STEEL: Global conditions have been challenging for steelmakers

Steelmakers continue to struggle with weak demand, low prices and overcapacity.

ENERGY: Moderate summer weather equals moderate prices

ENERGY: Moderate summer weather equals moderate prices

Cooler than normal summer weather is helping to keep electric prices moderate in the short-term, while low natural gas prices are doing the same for the long-term outlook.

REAL ESTATE: Rising tide lifting all boats

REAL ESTATE: Rising tide lifting all boats

Northwest Indiana Realtors are riding a wave of almost two years worth of monthly sales increases, while keeping a wary eye out for market changes that could affect future sales.

MANUFACTURING: Manufacturing doing a little better, but improvement incremental

MANUFACTURING: Manufacturing doing a little better, but improvement incremental

Soft demand and overcapacity issues have been nagging the steel industry, Berlin Metals president Roy Berlin said.

MEDIA: NWI market stays strong

MEDIA: NWI market stays strong

Business has been good for those with the experience and know-how to mine the Northwest Indiana media market, with stronger ad sales and social media boosting revenues.

CONSUMERS: Consumer confidence growing slowly

CONSUMERS: Consumer confidence growing slowly

Numbers show consumers are loosening the grip on their wallets, but slowly.

AUTOMOTIVE: Car, pickup truck sales taking off

AUTOMOTIVE: Car, pickup truck sales taking off

The auto industry has been having a pretty good year, and has been been boosted by a surge in pickup truck sales, said Tim Roper, owner of Smith Motors Auto Group.

SMALL RETAIL: Customers continue to loosen wallets a bit

SMALL RETAIL: Customers continue to loosen wallets a bit

Small retailers are keeping a wary on eye on prices while looking for new ways to better serve the customer.

CONSTRUCTION: New work will keep NWI contractors busy

CONSTRUCTION: New work will keep NWI contractors busy

The mammoth BP refinery expansion in Whiting is winding down, but contractors are hopeful the local construction industry will stay afloat.

LABOR: Work steady, but unemployment rate stagnant

LABOR: Work steady, but unemployment rate stagnant

Work remains steady at Northwest Indiana’s major manufacturers, but a local union leader said the number of job would increase if there were more construction projects and infrastructure spending.

INVESTMENTS: Municipal bond market risky, but stock index rising

INVESTMENTS: Municipal bond market risky, but stock index rising

The economy has moving, but not in a stellar fashion, a Northwest Indiana investment advisor said.

LABOR: Joblessness remains too high

LABOR: Joblessness remains too high

Too many people are still out of work, a local labor leader said.

AUTOMOTIVE: Pickup, car truck sales were hot until last few weeks

AUTOMOTIVE: Pickup, car truck sales were hot until last few weeks

Auto dealers had been enjoying the highest sales since 2007 until the government shutdown paralyzed many consumers with uncertainty, said Tim Roper, owner of Smith Motors Auto Group.

AUTOMOTIVE: Auto sales hit their highest point since 2007 last year

AUTOMOTIVE: Auto sales hit their highest point since 2007 last year

Automakers sold about 15.6 million cars last year, the highest number since 2007, when 16.1 million units were sold.

STEEL: Shipments strong to auto, appliance industries

STEEL: Shipments strong to auto, appliance industries

The steel industry got a boost from strong car sales in 2013, which hopefully should continue into this year, said Susan Zlajic, manager of government affairs at ArcelorMittal USA Inc.

LABOR: Workers missing out on economic gains

LABOR: Workers missing out on economic gains

The economy is recovering, but the wealth that has been generated is not being shared widely, a local labor leader said.

AUTOMOTIVE: Auto sales up despite recalls

AUTOMOTIVE: Auto sales up despite recalls

Heavy snowfall and bone-chilling cold hampered auto sales in January and February, but sales are still strong, said Tim Roper, owner of Smith Motors Auto Group, which operates Chevrolet dealerships in Hammond and Lowell.

STEEL: Automotive sales, construction key for steel industry

STEEL: Automotive sales, construction key for steel industry

Demand for steel was relatively flat in the United States in 2013, but AcrelorMittal is expecting a 4 percent increase in demand and shipments this year.

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