As part of the recent Panel & Engineered Lumber Conference in Atlanta hosted by TH companion publication Panel World magazine, I had the good fortune of listening to a presentation from award-winning economist Roger Tutterow of Kennesaw State, who delivered a presentation that noted the impacts of the pandemic on leading economic indicators and overall economy.
For the forest products and construction industries, the biggest issues are inflation and labor leading to higher construction costs, and it’s uncertainty along the supply chain that’s a big contributor to higher prices, he said.
Still, there are good housing and construction demand dynamics, with the inventory of new and existing housing currently at generational lows, Tutterow said. He added that recent interest rate increases may provide headwinds but historically a mortgage even between 5-6% is considered a good deal.
As he covered the current leading economic indicators; he noted that the pandemic recession of 2020 was the worst in U.S. history but also the shortest, and how we’re all living in a time of unprecedented economic dynamics during the world’s first truly global pandemic of the modern digital era.
Tutterow identified another big issue is how the economy will move forward without major federal stimulus funds and reduced Federal Reserve “quantitative easing” while grappling with pandemic recovery. All the stimulus money and “paying people not to work” is in the rear view mirror now, he said.
Amongst all the economic numbers and graphs, Tutterow made an important insight: We all love to talk about the mandates and shutdowns and those always grab the headlines. But 10 years from now, he said, we’re more likely to be talking about the impact of voluntary changes in our lives and businesses: the great resignation that was real, lower workforce participation, more work from home and other societal changes that will affect how the forest products industry and all of society does business.