Highlights From the 2022 Economic Outlook Breakfast

Recently, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual Economic Outlook Breakfast. Community members tuned in virtually to learn about which trends are impacting the economy in 2022.

Christy Gillenwater, president and CEO, Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, opened the event with a message of hope for members — highlighting developmental milestones and achievements from 2021. She then welcomed main speaker, David Altig, Ph.D., executive vice president and research director, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

In addition to advising the bank president on monetary policy and related matters, Altig oversees the bank’s research division including its team of economists, the regional economic information network and the bank’s community and economic development function.

Altig began his discourse addressing central themes on the state of the economy. According to a statement from the Federal Open Market Committee, the economic forecast continues to depend on how the pandemic progresses. The Federal Reserve lists two main objectives for the future: achieving maximum employment and inflation at the rate averaging 2% in the longer run.

While inflation rates are rising, the Federal Reserve maintains its objective that inflation averages 2% over longer periods of time.

“For almost a decade, we saw rates of inflation persistently below 2%… The period from early 2010s up to the pandemic was a period where the 2% target was persistently missed to the downside. Now, we have this period of time where we have a higher than 2% inflation,” Altig says.

Whether these rates average to 2% over time is still not clear at the present moment and experts suggest that inflation is a concern.

On the employment side, Altig suggests that recovery is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. Employment rates still fall short of full recovery, but the amount of jobs available is on the rise. While the total labor force dropped during the pandemic, the labor force participation of individuals age 24-55 is on the recovery.

Altig shifted the conversation to discuss what trends to look out for in 2022. Topics discussed included the real growth of wages when adjusted for inflation, global supply chain pressures on goods and longer-run inflation expectations for the future.

The discussion then shifted to a Q&A session led by Gillenwater. Altig spoke on the need for childcare and revealed that the highest demographic impacted by the pandemic is single mothers with children under six. He also spoke on the economic impact of remote working and the benefits of retraining and workforce development programs.

The event closed with a message from Gillenwater sending thanks to community members at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Throughout 2022 and beyond, the Chamber of Commerce continues its mission of keeping Chattanooga engaged through discussions and community events.

Watch the entire Economic Outlook Breakfast, here.

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