EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) Evansville area business leaders are looking at the current state and possible future state of the economy.

The Evansville Regional Economic Partnership hosted its economic outlook luncheon this afternoon.

Tom Jalics, the Chief Market Strategist for Fifth Third Bank, told the crowd the region’s economy has improved since the pandemic’s start, but issues with inflation and the supply chain could remain through next year.

“Our economy is doing well. That said, we have elements that are not back to what they were,” said Tara Barney, CEO of the Evansville Regional Economic Partnership.

Jalics said the federal government did a good job last year helping the economy get through the start of the pandemic through federal stimulus. He also says manufacturing, which makes up a large part of the Evansville region’s economy, helping improve the local economy.

“Because of the base of the economy here is mid-20s percent of the GDP is in manufacturing. Manufacturing there has been strong. Job growth there is strong and things are improving,” he said.

Todays’ jobs report showed the U.S. economy added 531,000 jobs, and unemployment fell from 4.8% to 4.6%. Jalics says there’s a correlation between the pandemic and the jobs market.

“COVID cases go up, jobs reports are a little weaker,” he explained. “When COVID cases go down, the job reports are a little stronger. So, we would attribute the most recent jobs report to cases rolling over and people getting back to work.”

Jalics warns supply chain issues may not be resolved until the middle of next year, but inflation remains high, causing items from gas to groceries to be more expensive.(Greg wathen) 

“If you look at families in particular, their cost of food, their cost of energy, gas prices, that’s a concern for everyone,” said Greg Wathen of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana.

Jalics says nearly three million Americans aren’t participating in the work force now, and worker shortages in those industries may continue until those workers start returning. 

(This story was originally published on November 5, 2021)