Santa’s Economic Forecast While Ebenezer is crying Whoa, Whoa, Whoa…I continue to shout...HO, HO, HO!!!  For centuries I have watched with interest Christmas-time economies around the world. Christmas is traditional so some things are quite easy to call with certainty: In spite of my repeat visits down the chimney, somewhere in the world little Johnny’s classmate will announce Santa a fraud. The Butterball Hotline will, once again, be the busiest call center on the planet. And, of course, at 4:00 PM on Christmas Eve, Dads everywhere will stand in downtown stores, malls, and even parking lots, freezing hands stuffed in pockets watching volunteers wrap all of their last minute purchases. So it's the sameness, the predictability, the tradition we love about Christmas and the Holiday Season…right? We want the holidays to be stable, just like we want markets to be stable….good, bad or indifferent we want certain things to happen every year without fail. Well I say some things will be different about Christmas 2019. Why? There's plenty to cause concern, economic turmoil, global political power struggles, policy battles at an unprecedented fever pitch…all have boys and girls feeling less secure. But there is still something special about the holidays that have a profound effect on us all, and from my position at the North Pole I see a few signs that indicate our days can still be merry and bright! I know Christmas 2018 was epic!  Can Christmas 2019 possibly be as good as 2018? Anything is possible, but at least this year we know it could always be worse and are as ready as a red-nosed reindeer to make sure we don't get grounded!  Consider some of the predictions on MY list that will fight a blue Christmas. The void created by the closure of some national big box retailers last year will contribute to shoppers finding their bargains from Chamber members right here in southern Oregon, Chamber member businesses….especially those selling guns and ammo... Peace on Earth! You better not cry!  Buddy the Elf recently reported to me that the U.S. economy, or real GDP expanded at a better-than-expected 3.5-percent annual rate in the third quarter of 2018, further signs that the nine year-old economic expansion shows no signs of slowing anytime soon!  Have you checked in on manufacturing, construction and home sales lately?  American manufacturing jobs are around 12.8 million at an average salary of $84,832.  That may be fewer total jobs than in the manufacturing heydays of the 1970’s…but salaries are better and output also continues to show growth with U.S. workers cranking out over 80% more than they did 30 years ago.  December might normally be a slower month for home sales, but a little gift in the form of a small tick down in interest rates and folks lowering prices a bit after overpricing their property might mean you’ll be singing I’ll Buy A Home For The Holidays!  No matter the promising news, there is no denying the lingering memories of financial fragility, stubbornly high unemployment and tight credit that Chamber members are forced to think about daily.  Conversely, today, low unemployment and skilled workforce issues are an equally challenging dynamic with which to contend. That said, strangely, all these challenges, both good and not quite as good, should provide us the opportunity to have the most "successful" Christmas/ Holiday Season ever, by focusing on those more important gatherings with family and friends.  Choosing to look at those relationships as the most important gifts under the tree might, more than anything else make 2019's holidays the most memorable…have a very MERRY Christmas, Happy Hanukah and the best Holiday Season in a long, long time!

Best regards,
Brad Hicks
President & CEO
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
Eat. Drink. Be Local.
The Chamber of Medford/Jackson County
101 E. 8th St.  |  Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 779-4847