Saturday, September 26, 2009

Local GDP growth: positive signs for our communities and the nonprofits which serve them?

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released figures two days ago, which provide cause for both concern and optimism – but hopefully more of the latter than of the former.

On the national level, new data for 2008 show that “the slowdown in U.S. economic growth was widespread: 60 percent of metropolitan areas saw economic growth slow down or reverse.” However, some metropolitan areas did increase their economic output. The Twin Cities region, Saint Cloud, and Rochester all showed positives – which perhaps offers Minnesota some reason for optimism.

Nobody can say what this means in the long term; economic growth in Minnesota’s metro regions (unfortunately not including Duluth) may or may not portend better years in 2010 and 2011. However, the national turnaround has to start somewhere; maybe that’s here.

We don’t know exactly when increases in the metropolitan GDPs will translate into significantly more jobs. Hence, we don’t know when economic growth will affect the rising level of requests that we have observed for assistance with basic needs; nor do we know when resources will return to nonprofits. I advise my nonprofit colleagues that we will not see major relief for at least five years; we will feel the negative effects of today’s recession for at least ten years. Let’s hope I’m wrong about that, but we should formulate our long-range plans with those assumptions and make sure that we can sustain as much service to the community as possible during the coming decade.

If we work together, we can and will get through it.

(If you want more details, take a look at the latest BEA numbers; also take a look at the latest Quarterly Pulse for the local area.)

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