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Cleveland/Northeast Ohio economy: Per capita output higher than U.S. average

Is the Cleveland economy recovering? Yes, it is—and it’s on par with the U.S. with per capita GDP above pre-recession levels.

Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland economist Dr. Joel Elvery provided an overview of current economic conditions in the U.S. & Cleveland/Northeast Ohio and a forecast for 2015 to more than 125 middle-market executives at the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s 4Q Middle-Market Forum on December 3. Key points about Northeast Ohio include:
  • Cleveland’s per capita output continued to rise in 2013 and was higher than that of Ohio, nearby metropolitan areas and the U.S. as a whole.
  • Cleveland’s per capita income was, in 2013, again above that of the U.S. and Ohio averages.
  • In both Cleveland and Ohio, household debt is down to levels not seen since 2001.
  • Unemployment declined sharply in 2014, but Cleveland’s rate is still above the nation’s.
  • Employment growth has been weaker in Cleveland than the state and nation across many industry segments.
  • Home prices rose more in 2014 than 2013 in the region but less than the state and national averages
  • Measures that adjust for population (per capita and rates) show Northeast Ohio recovering about on par with U.S.
  • Because population in the region declined from 1997 to 2012, measures that do not adjust for population show Northeast Ohio having a weaker recovery than U.S. The decline has tapered off and is now flat.

Changes ahead?

Looking ahead to 2015, Elvery said to expect:

  • U.S. GDP to grow in range of 2.6 percent to 2.9 percent
  • U.S. unemployment rate to fall to around 5.5 percent
  • Inflation to remain below 2 percent
  • Federal Funds Rate to rise but remain historically low

Another takeaway from the the forum is that now is a good time to invest. Interest rates should rise in the coming years and the economy is expected to continue to grow.