Board of Economits: sector by sector
See views of the local and national economy from The Times' Board of Economists.
Despite the best efforts of Washington politicians to cripple U.S. economic growth, American businesses are overcoming all odds to build a sustained recovery.
Too many people are still out of work, a local labor leader said.
As the economy improves, advertisers are staying loyal to what works, whether that be traditional or new media, said Jennifer Finnerty, Radio One Communications general manager.
The manufacturing sector continues to improve, and the steel industry in particular has been buoyed by strong auto sales, Berlin Metals president Roy Berlin said.
Small retailers are already preparing for the holiday season, while still striving to catch the last of summer and back-to-school shoppers.
The base of activity in Northwest Indiana's construction market is broadening, with residential and commercial activity now rebounding after years of lackluster performance.
Continued confusion about the implementation and impact of the Affordable Care Act leaves unanswered questions about what the legislation, also known as Obamacare, means for the health care industry.
A raised debt ceiling did more than end a federal government shutdown. It should ease people's minds as they do their holiday shopping.
With announcements of economic development coming to Porter County, Rex Richards can't help but be optimistic about the health of that corner of the Region.
Natural gas prices continue to trade within moderate ranges, despite some fears demand from gas-fired electric generating plants might drive up prices during the summer.
Last quarter indications show improvement may be on the horizon in the nonprofit sector.
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.
Consumer spending, credit card debt and consumer confidence held steady regionally in the third quarter of 2013, and large retailers are cautiously optimistic the fourth quarter will hold steady with holiday buying, said Connie Kann, area director of the Better Business Bureau.
Lake County's last-in-the-state local income tax is now nicking wage earners' paychecks, but they will get something back for their money.
A soft economy and government stability worries may actually bolster attendance at shows, concerts and movies.
Major financial markets have been performing well, but the shutdown could slow the pace of growth, a Northwest Indiana investment adviser said.
Despite a one-year reprieve for small businesses, Obamacare remains a looming uncertainty for restaurants and others.
Northwest Indiana home sales have increased on a year-over-year basis for 27 straight months due to better consumer confidence, increased employment and low interest rates.
The continued uncertainty shrouding the Affordable Care Act is leaving many in the health care industry wondering what comes next.
Grocery stores are working to remain relevant to customers, such as by offering more natural foods, said Stack & Van Til president Dave Wilkinson.
With autumn comes harvest, and local yields have been variable.
The banking sector has been improving gradually over the last couple years, and should continue to make positive gains, a Northwest Indiana banker said.
Gas consumption has been flat in Northwest Indiana though prices have come down from the high $3 range, said Tom Collins, the chief executive officer of fuel distributor and retailer Luke Oil.
Enrollments at Indiana University Northwest increased again this fall, but the Gary school seems to be the exception, according to Micah Pollack, Indiana University Northwest professor of economics.
Manufacturing has been doing fairly well, and should see continued strength going into 2014, Berlin Metals president Roy Berlin said.
Automakers sold about 15.6 million cars last year, the highest number since 2007, when 16.1 million units were sold.
The banking sector remains strong despite in dip in mortgage activity and a wave of consolidations, a Northwest Indiana banker said.
Investors had reason to celebrate, as last year U.S. stocks posted their best year since 1997.
Stack & Van Til president Dave Wilkinson said grocery stores have been doing well, but depend on a healthy economy.
The economy is recovering, but the wealth that has been generated is not being shared widely, a local labor leader said.
A Hammond service center, which is one of the largest distributors of tin mill and coated steel products, is starting to see 5 to 6 percent increases in sales.
Interest rates remain low, making it an ideal time for businesses to borrow money to expand or acquire other companies, said Horizon Bank executive vice president David Rose.
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.
The stock market had an incredible year last year and started 2014 with a bang, said Mark Ennes, a wealth management adviser for the Merrill Lynch's Merrillville office.
The grocery industry is prospering, even though the greater Chicago market is crowded with competition, Strack & Van Til president Dave Wilkinson said.
The grocery industry is doing well, but Strack and Van Til stores are faring better in South Lake County, where the unemployment is lower than it is in the northern cities or Illinois.
Auto sales have been pretty good as Chevrolet continues its run as the top-selling vehicle brand in Chicagoland, said Tim Roper, owner of Smith Motors Auto Group, which operates Chevrolet dealerships in Hammond and Lowell.
Stock prices have been hitting all-time highs despite global uncertainties, said Mark Ennes, a wealth management adviser for the Merrill Lynch's Merrillville office.
Manufacturing continues the slow, steady improvement that has characterized the sector over the last few years, Berlin Metals President Boy Berlin said.
The economy came out of its winter hibernation during the second quarter as consumer confidence reached the highest point since 2007, Horizon Bank Executive Vice President David Rose said.