U.S. Economy to Continue Growing in 2018

Key indicators suggest the nation’s economic expansion will carry on into the next year despite natural disasters and political turmoil, according to the latest edition of “The Briefing” from Transwestern.

Tom McNearney
Tom McNearney

Despite major natural disasters and ongoing debate about the implications of sweeping tax changes expected to be approved by the Republican-led Congress this week, the U.S. economy has improved and key economic indicators suggest the expansion will continue into 2018, according to the latest edition of “The Briefing” from Transwestern.

In the report, Transwestern Chief Investment Officer Tom McNearney outlines the positive fundamentals he expects will drive the economy forward in the coming year.

“While there has been a general inflation in asset prices of all kinds, the markets do not appear to be suffering from the irrational exuberance that has characterized the end of other expansions,” McNearney said in a prepared statement. “In fact, investors are exhibiting worry, uncertainty and caution.”

One of the key indicators is the U.S. job report, which in October marked 85 consecutive months of growth, an unprecedented streak that spans more than seven years, he noted. The October initial jobs report surged to 261,000 new positions and also revised the negative estimates for the previous month into positive territory, with 44,000 jobs filled in September, despite the catastrophic hurricanes in Texas and Florida. Business investment increased 3.9 percent in the third quarter despite the hurricanes.

Unemployment dropped to 4.1 percent, a level which, under traditional economic models, would trigger predictions of greater wage inflation than we are seeing today, according to McNearney.

“Business investment, factory output, consumer and business sentiment, and corporate profits are nearing all-time highs, suggesting this expansion has runway beyond the holiday season,” McNearney said.

The retail industry is expected to be happy with its holiday season, with the National Retail Federation predicting 2017 holiday sales to exceed 2016 increase by 3.6 percent to 4 percent, outpacing the five-year average increase of 3.5 percent annual growth, according to “The Briefing.”

Office, Industrial Broker Confidence

The report looks ahead to 2018 in the U.S. office and industrial markets citing Transwestern’s national Broker Sentiment Survey in November that concluded those markets will continue to perform well next year.

The survey found nearly 50 percent of respondents believe leasing velocity in the U.S. office market will be slightly higher in 2018 and 59 percent expect higher rents. On the investment side, 89 percent of respondents expect U.S. office investment pricing to be flat or rise in 2018. The strongest office market conditions should be in the Southwest, Southeast and West with markets like South Florida, Phoenix and San Antonio, Texas, seeing improving fundamentals.

U.S. industrial markets expected to see growth in 2018 include Boston, Baltimore and the San Francisco Bay Area and the strongest market conditions are expected in the West, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. But some popular markets like Los Angeles and New Jersey will see slowing leasing velocity due to lack of inventory. The brokers surveyed expect leasing, asking rents and development in the industrial sector to be up slightly in 2018.

Amazon continues to have major impacts on the U.S. industrial sector with “The Briefing” noting that today 44 percent of Americans live within 20 miles of an Amazon warehouse compared to 5 percent in 2015. And the online retail giant’s recent search for a second U.S. headquarters, dubbed HQ2, drew 238 proposals from across the country, including bids from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Atlanta.

Image courtesy of Transwestern