Economic Outlook Luncheon: 2 more years of slow growth, then economic boost


May 6, 2011

We’re finally seeing some signs of growth in Arizona, but don’t expect a big bounce in our economy until 2013. That’s the bottom line, according to economists from the W. P. Carey School of Business, who offered new midyear forecasts for the state and nation this week. They spoke in front of business leaders and others at the popular annual Economic Outlook Luncheon sponsored by the Economic Club of Phoenix.

Research Professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business, predicts slow growth throughout the rest of this year and next in Arizona. He says the United States has already seen seven straight quarters of gross-domestic-product (GDP) growth since the third quarter of 2009, but the growth isn’t as strong as in previous positive years. Still, he points out 48 states are now adding jobs, including ours. Download Full Image

“Arizona is still struggling, ranked No. 47 in the nation for job growth from March 2010 to March 2011,” says McPheters. “However, I anticipate we’ll see a boost in personal income, employment and population by 2015. I expect Arizona to add about 300,000 new jobs by 2015.”

McPheters also estimates 112,000 new homes and 665,000 new residents will come to Arizona by 2015. That would represent a 10.4-percent population growth. McPheters expects Arizona unemployment to fall from 10 percent last year to 9 percent this year, 8 percent next year, and finally all the way down to 6.5 percent in 2015.

Nationwide, Robert Mittelstaedt, dean and professor of management at the W. P. Carey School of Business, agrees with McPheters that the federal deficit threatens to slow our growth. Mittelstaedt says government debt and obligations locally, statewide and nationwide, along with the deficit, may affect us negatively for the next decade or so. He, too, doesn’t expect a rapid economic recovery.

“A robust recovery isn’t likely anytime soon because housing is too weak nationally, and especially here in Arizona,” says Mittelstaedt. “Sustained high unemployment nationally is a key problem.”

On the bright side, Mittelstaedt adds that globalization is helping us recover from the recession since some U.S.-based global companies are doing well. However, he thinks their growth will be somewhat limited as more countries build larger companies to compete with our top performers.

Professor Dennis Hoffman, director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business, gave an in-depth look at the state budget situation. He says there’s a structural problem that won’t go away unless changes are made.

“Tax collections have been falling even more than Arizonans’ incomes,” explains Hoffman. “We have reduced tax rates by 10 percent since 2006, even though demand for state services keeps growing. Traditionally, in times of economic difficulty, more people seek help from the state.”

Hoffman says, when adjusted for inflation, the average income-tax amount collected from an Arizona resident dropped from about $1,650 in 2005 to about $1,050 in 2009. Hoffman expects state revenues to start rising as the economy recovers, but the temporary sales tax will expire, too. Therefore, he expects state lawmakers to face more pressure to balance the budget over the next five years, especially in fiscal year 2014.

“Right now, the state’s expenditures represent about $425 per $10,000 of personal income in Arizona,” says Hoffman. “However, the state is only collecting about $300 per $10,000 of personal income. Obviously, that’s not sustainable.”

This year’s Economic Outlook Luncheon was held at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa in Scottsdale. The Economic Club of Phoenix hosts the event every spring, as one of its many activities for Valley business leaders and others to network and engage. The club was founded by a group of prominent business executives called the Dean’s Council of 100, in conjunction with the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. More information about the club can be found at http://www.wpcarey.asu.edu.

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Students earn religion and conflict certificates; recognized at awards ceremony


May 6, 2011

The death this past week of Osama bin Laden is a stark reminder of the role that religion and conflict has played, and will continue to play, in the lives of today’s students – most of whom came of age in the post-9/11 world. To prepare these students for the increasingly complex role that religion plays both in the world, the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict created an interdisciplinary certificate program.

Nine students were on hand to receive their certificates at an awards ceremony that took place at the center’s offices in West Hall on April 27. Download Full Image

“Religion can be a force for peace as well as for violence,” said Linell Cady, director of the center. “Courses offered through the certificate program are designed to introduce students to these dynamics across cultures, traditions, and regions.”

Students attending the April 27 ceremony included:

Emily Adams, with majors in political science and religious studies, explored the conflict over definitions of religion at the heart of Native American and US disputes over land use in Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks. Adams, who plans on going to law school, said her classes in the program and her thesis helped her think about alternative conflict resolution processes.

Alli Coritz, an undergraduate research fellow in Religion and Conflict with majors in global studies, religious studies and cultural geography, hopes to go into the Peace Corps or become a Fulbright Scholar. “The opportunity to meet students with different majors really made a difference for me—it enriched my understanding of the problems as well as the potential solutions,” said Coritz.

Aria Gehrmann, who majored in women and gender studies and minored in history, has been accepted into a PhD program at Syracuse University. She will be studying the cultural foundations of education and is particularly interested in understanding how gender, race, and religion influence attitudes and policies around education.

Daniel Urman, a BIS major with an emphasis on Jewish and Islamic studies, sees direct applicability of his studies to his future career plans. “I plan on pursuing a career in national security and diplomacy, with a focus on counter-terrorism,” he said. “My professors have been fantastic and my experience studying abroad last summer confirmed for me that this is what I want to do.”

Christen White, who majored in anthropology and religious studies, has been accepted into ASU’s graduate program in religious studies. “Through my classes I really became fascinated by Byzantine history. I was really struck by how much we can learn about present-day conflict by studying the past,” commented White.

Micah Wimmer, a chemistry major and religion minor. After graduation, Wimmer plans on pursuing PhD’s in chemistry and religious studies. “I am viewed with a bit of skepticism,” he said, “but in my studies I have been struck more by the interactions between religion and science rather than the conflicts.”

Derek Schuttpelz, who worked as in intern with the center, earned his degree in December 2010 and returned for the awards ceremony to pick up his certificate in person. Certificate earners Shana Dominguez and Zackary Withers, both of whom majored in religion and applied ethics, also graduated in December 2010.

Also earning certificates this semester but unable to attend the ceremony were:

• Ibrahim Birgeoglu (Political Science)
• Melody Dernocoeur (Global Studies)
• Dimple Dhanani (Religious Studies)
• Nicole Gordon (Religious Studies)
• Summer Kamal (Political Science
• Kaitlin Keirsted (Global Studies)
• Vanessa Miranda (Justice Studies)
• Max Pardo (Global Studies)
• Robert Pavlovic (History)
• Alicia Somsen (Religious Studies)

Alesandro Norton (History and Political Science) and Tye Rabens (Journalism), both currently enrolled in the certificate program, also attended the ceremony.

The certificate is open to any undergraduate student enrolled at Arizona State University in any major, and may be of particular interest for students pursuing careers in journalism, law, policy work, diplomacy, the military, public advocacy, publishing, education, ministry, or other fields in which an enhanced understanding of religion and conflict is important.

In addition to their major, students who earn the certificate take 18 credit hours of interdisciplinary course work involving the regional, political and cultural study of religion and conflict.

“The program graduated 19 students in its first two years,” said John Carlson, associate director of the center and director of the certificate program.

“The addition of this year’s graduates brings the total to 34. This speaks to the high level of interest and concern that our students have for the problems of religion and conflict in today’s world,” said Carlson.

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