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Monday, July 14, 2014 - Experts in OU's business school are optimistic about regional economy, consumers not so much

OU professors Dr. Jonathan Silberman, foreground, and Dr. Ronald Tracy calculate data for the Southeastern Michigan Economic Outlook report. 

In the July 2014 Southeastern Michigan Economic Outlook report, economists and business owners are cautiously optimistic about the economic outlook for this area going forward.

Experts are hopeful about improvements in private-sector employment, trends in unemployment and real income through the end of next year.  Business executives are optimistic about sales, profit and hiring improving in the 3rd quarter of 2014.

Meanwhile, consumer sentiment on their current financial condition, buying major household items, and the national economy, are stuck in neutral and are unsure about the economic prospects in our area. This trend has been consistent over the past four quarters of data collection and analysis.

"Rebounding U.S. light vehicle sales should help our area continue on a path of slow, but steady improvement," said Dr. Jonathan Silberman, an OU economics professor who, along with associate economics professor Dr. Ronald Tracy, compiled the survey. 

Silberman and Tracy surveyed eight economists, 435 consumers and 41 business executives in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, Lapeer and St. Clair counties to produce the report. 

"We will have to keep an eye on the region's per-capita income," added Tracy. "If it continues to grow, it's a good indicator that we are moving in the right direction."

Both experts explain that economists and business owners are on the front edge of seeing economic changes and consumer views usually lag behind both. However, consumer spending is such a large part of the economy, their outlook can slow or accelerate any economic change.

Policy Forum question this quarter: Miles Traveled Fee 

The report also poses a policy forum question each quarter. This quarter's question explored the idea of replacing the gas tax with a user fee.

The question posed was: "Replacing gasoline taxes with a user fee based on the distance driven over roadways in Michigan with higher rates for heavy vehicles is an efficient, productive and smart way to finance Michigan's transportation infrastructure." 

The response from five of eight economic experts was agreeable with this plan. Consumers were split with 43 percent in favor, 30 percent against and 25 percent unsure.

Business executives were also split with 44 percent in favor and 49 percent against this idea. 

Read more detailed information about the Policy Forum findings.

About the Oakland University School of Business Administration
Oakland University's School of Business Administration has achieved more than 40 years of education excellence by remaining relevant to the ever-changing global business environment and providing students a distinctive educational experience that integrates classroom learning with real-world business experience and research. OU's business school is one of only 178 business schools, out of 13,000 worldwide - to hold elite accreditation from the Association to Advance College Schools of Business -International for both its business and accounting programs.