Economist: Diverse job sector critical

Growing industry diversity in Grand Junction is “what you want to see,” according to Wells Fargo Managing Director and Chief Economist John Silvia.

But as the Charlotte, N.C.-based economist said Wednesday night during a presentation at the Mesa State College Center, future job growth is most likely to come from the health care, education, technology, and financial and professional service sectors.

Six consecutive quarters of double-digit gains in technology and software sales have convinced Silvia that equipment is replacing the need for workers in some fields. And plenty of manufacturing has moved overseas.

“The nature of the labor market has changed over time,” Silvia said.

The way to create more jobs, he said, is to add to the service market. Silvia said people now are more likely to focus their dollars on services than on goods, making the service industry more competitive but also more relevant.

“As consumers we want things better than before, and we want to find someone who can provide it better than before,” he said.

Silvia, who has been named one of the top 10 economic forecasters four years running by Bloomberg and the No. 2 forecaster in 2008 by USA Today, discussed the local as well as the national economy Wednesday.

He said housing prices are still low because the need for large, suburban homes is dwindling as gas prices increase and family sizes decrease. He also said corporate profits are rising because many U.S. corporations have revenue sources from abroad and are taking advantage of Asia’s booming economy.

In order to balance federal or state budgets, Silvia said taxpayers are going to have to “be honest with ourselves.” Income is on the rise but taxes are lagging behind, Silvia said, and he advised states with prestigious public colleges and universities to charge market price for tuition on par with private schools.

Silvia also advised against health care or retirement programs that have little promise of having adequate funding. He said having 10,000 baby boomers retire daily will surely hurt Social Security’s solvency under its current terms, and he believes more state workers should contribute a portion of their income if they receive lifetime health care benefits.

“Baby boomers are spoiled brats,” Silvia said. “You can’t have a scooter for free. If you can’t pay $100, why should your grandkids pay for it?”


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