A couple months back, I wrote about the 20th Annual Economic Outlook Conference (EOC) hosted by the Regional Economic Studies Institute (RESI) at Towson University. Now that this year’s EOC has passed, I want to update you on some of the highlights.

The theme, Conscious Capitalism: The Economics of Doing Good, seemed to really resonate with many of our attendees, and that was really reassuring for me. Having the opportunity to hear about companies and company structures that do not just focus on profits was a fresh way to think about corporate America. I really hope it’s a trend that continues to pick up speed in the future.

Back in October, CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. crunched numbers to discover which U.S. metro areas could survive a Zombie Apocalypse. The weighted index rankings were based on occupational skills and industry characteristics and showed that Baltimore is fourth on the most-likely-to-survive list. However, will we survive The Zombie Economy?

The Zombie Economy

The Zombie Economy

Dr. Irani describes The Zombie Economy

The highlight of each EOC is the presentation of the economic forecast by RESI’s Chief Economist Daraius Irani, Ph.D. The title of his presentation, ‘The Zombie Economy,’ is indicative of the overall theme of this year’s forecast—that, despite growth of various economic indicators, the economy still lacks real signs of life.

      • Although households are spending more money, they are not spending as much as pre-recession amounts.
      • Home prices are almost back to pre-recession levels, but there are still places where this is not the case.
      • Almost 30% of homes were underwater pre-recession. Today that number is around 15%.
      • Crude oil prices have dropped dramatically, saving the average car driver about $800 a year.
      • The unemployment rate has dropped significantly. However, the participation rate is only at 62.4% of eligible workers.
      • The slow level of income growth is being affected by types of jobs being created. In Maryland, only 22,405 mid-wage jobs have been recovered. However, low-wage jobs have grown by over 40,000.
      • With two wars winding down, the government is spending less on defense. This may have an effect on Maryland because over 400,000 people are employed by military installations in the state.

You can watch his complete presentation here.

PROMThe PROM

Dr. Irani also took the opportunity to present RESI’s new occupational tool PROM, or Predictive Regional Occupational Matrix. PROM provides an innovative new tool for analysis, as it allows RESI to use industry data to determine the types of specific jobs a policy or project will support.

Other Highlights from this Year’s EOC

    • TU150 Economic Impact Study   Tim Chandler, Ph.D., TU’s interim president, presented highlights from TU’s economic impact for the entirety of its 150 years of operation, calculated by RESI as part of the 150th anniversary celebration. In addition to the economic, fiscal, and community impacts detailed in the report, the Division of Innovation and Applied Research’s Office of Partnerships and Outreach and TU’s Office of Marketing and Communications collaborated to produce a video outlining these impacts.
    • Conscious Capitalism   Edward Freeman, Ph.D., of the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, presented his keynote talk on “What is Conscious Capitalism?” Dr. Freeman’s presentation provided an excellent background for a panel discussion that followed. John Montgomery, Chairman Emeritus of Montgomery & Hansen LLP, gave the afternoon keynote address, titled “Are You Ready for the B Economy? Benefit Corporations and Conscious Capitalism.” Montgomery drew upon his extensive knowledge of the legal system to provide context regarding why Conscious Capitalism is such a paradigm shift for the corporate world and why “conscious” companies are often more successful.