ECONOMY Tom Pierce 3-23

Tom Pierce, a professor at California State University, San Bernardino, gives an upbeat assessment of the local economy to the Highland Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday morning.

Tom Pierce, a professor at California State University, San Bernardino, painted a rosy picture of the economy at a breakfast meeting of the Highland Area Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday and backed it up with solid evidence.

Pierce told the group, meeting at the Immanuel Baptist Church, that he routinely discusses macro-economics with his students, fellow professors in the Department of Economics and other economists.

“And I found it interesting over the years to speak with professional people, who are economists,” he said. “They usually are good sounding boards for ideas. And you can usual tell, after 5 or 10 minutes, if they think I am making sense or if I’m full of beans.”

Beans were not on the menu at this breakfast.

“Right now, the U.S. economy is in the best shape than it has been in for a long time,” Pierce said.

After the Great Recession that caused millions of families to lose their homes and raised the Riverside-San Bernardino County unemployment rate to more than 14 percent the U.S. economy has finally began to come back.

The economic expansion that began in 2009 is now the third-longest U.S. expansion on record, he said. Modest growth in the 2 percent range has kept the country on a steady course.

The national unemployment rate is now 4.1 percent, the lowest since December 2000.

“Compared to September 2008 to June of 2009 when the economy was losing an average of 620,000 jobs month — when we lost over 8 million jobs in the recession — in the recession, the economy has now added jobs for 89 months in a row,” Pierce said.

Asked by the Highland Community News if the Trump tax cuts were worth the increase to the national debt, he defended the cuts. He pointed out that federal government can borrow money at 3 percent never misses a payment.

He said Federal Reserve is poised to raise interest rates by a quarter of a percent, the first of three increases anticipated this year and the sixth such move since 2015. The Fed is seeking the fine balance between controlling inflation and stimulating growth.

We share Tom Pierce’s optimism about the economy, although we remain concerned about the federal debt, which hit $21 trillion this week and continues to climb.

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