- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Recent growth in the U.S. economy is likely to continue, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond told a joint Virginia Bankers Association and Virginia Chamber of Commerce event in Richmond on Friday.

Jeffrey Lacker, a voting member of the Fed’s chief policymaking group, said the key consumer sector has picked up in recent months with the acceleration of household spending and improved employment prospects.

Over the last four quarters, Lacker said the real gross domestic product - says the country’s best single gauge of overall economic activity - increased 2.7 percent, better than the 2.1 percent growth over the previous four years. Additionally, payroll employment rose by an average of 246,000 jobs per month over the 12 months ending in December, compared with an average rise of 185,000 jobs per month over the previous three years.

While he noted there are reasons to remain cautious, Lacker said the U.S. could see real GDP could grow by 2.5 to 3 percent in 2015.

“Granted, we’ve seen short-run growth spurts before during the course of this expansion, only to see the pace of growth subside,” Lacker told the group of 630 people in attendance. “But some recent developments that were largely absent during previous spurts have improved the likelihood that the recent pickup in growth will be sustained.”

In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Lacker spoke about the economy in his district, which encompasses the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and most of West Virginia.

Lacker said the northern half of the district and the Hampton Roads area of Virginia did better than the country through the recession thanks in part to government spending, but they are now lagging because of cutbacks in federal spending. The southern part of the district, including the Carolinas, is doing “a little bit better than the country,” helped by areas like manufacturing in those regions, he said.

West Virginia’s economic situation is split, he said, as the northern part of the state is doing well because of the natural gas boom, while the southern part is “very challenged,” because of the decline in the coal industry.

___

Michael Felberbaum can be reached at https://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide