Central Pennsylvania economy is on the upswing, says expert

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Aug 19, 2015 2:59 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Central Pennsylvania's job market is improving, according to an economist, and momentum could be building into next year.

More people are joining the labor force, and wages are increasing.

Kurt Rankin, an economist with PNC Financial Services, studies central Pennsylvania's economy, and expects the trend to continue for the rest of the year, and into 2016.

He says the news is especially good for recent college graduates or those who left the labor force because they were discouraged by the job hunt.

"Once incomes start to rise, as we've seen average hourly wages start to rise in central Pennsylvania, once those sort of indicators start to rise and are sustained that can swiftly bring those individuals back into the labor force, as they can apply and get the jobs that they're looking for and that they need," says Rankin.

Rankin appeared on WITF's Smart Talk.

Rankin says the region's strongest sectors are government, manufacturing and transportation.

That bodes well for the future, because such industries often attract younger people who can build a career and settle in an area.

But Rankin predicts the growth rate for central Pennsylvania housing prices will lag a bit.

"That's going to be a long wait," he says.

"Because while housing trends are improving, they will continue to improve because of labor force and wage growth, it's going to be a slow pace of recovery, it's going to be below to maybe just creeping up to the now-settled national average."

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