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Nov 18, 201102:18 PMBlog

State economist sees hopeful signs

Nov 18, 2011 - 02:18 PM
Washington state's official forecaster had some good news in remarks to an economic symposium in Tumwater today.

"Non-residential construction contracts  in October were higher year-over-year (2011 versus 2010) for the first time in four years," said Arun Raha, Ph.D., chief economist and executive director of Washington Economic and Revenue Council. "And I expect momentum here to grow by mid-2012. There is also some clear upward trend in multi-family permits" - which is the first step toward a housing recovery.
Raha said he believes single-family home pricing will begin to strengthen in 12 to 18 months.

"Washington state is likely to come out of the housing slump sooner than most of the U.S. because we have fewer mortgages 30 days past due than all but three other states," he said. "We are right in the middle (23rd) of states with more serious delinquencies."

Raha also thinks our state will outperform the nation once we all get to recovery because of the strength being shown by Boeing and Microsoft.

However, state government general fund tax collections will not match pre-recession levels until fiscal year 2013. "And even then, in real dollars (inflation adjusted) those collections will only match what were seen in 1994," he said.

The official revenue forecast released yesterday showed a $122 million drop from the September report, which Raha considers a minor adjustment in a $30 billion state budget.
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