There were varying views on growth, but economic experts at the 21st annual Economic Outlook Conference on Tuesday agreed it will be a slow recovery from the recession for the nation and Kentucky.
Ken Troske, director of the Center for Business and Economics Research at the University of Kentucky's Gatton College of Business and Economics, predicted that the nation will see 2 percent to 2.5 percent growth this year, but that Kentucky will see just half of that.
"One of the points I tried to make is, the growth of the economy in Kentucky is going to be really contingent on the growth of the total U.S. economy," he said afterward. "I don't see us doing things differently than the rest of the country."
Troske, who also is head of the Gatton College's economics department, said he continues to be concerned by the housing market nationally.
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"Due to rising foreclosures, fairly flat prices and continued low building, that's going to put a drag on the economy," he said.
And he said Kentucky's housing market has been fairly stable — "we didn't see the run-up in prices" — but the state's economy is so reliant on consumer spending nationally that the nation's problems will "limit the ability of Kentucky to grow."
Troske said that because of the state's high base of manufacturing jobs, he expects unemployment will "remain fairly persistently high." He said businesses have avenues to increase production, including hiring temporary workers or elevating part-timers to full-timers, that will let them expand but not necessarily reduce the unemployment rate.
In contrast, Christopher Waller, senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, offered a slightly more optimistic view. He cited the Blue Chip survey of economists, which suggested between 3.5 percent and 4 percent growth for the country.
"There's a lot of room for error out there," Troske said. "I view either of those as fairly low levels of growth as opposed to what you would like to see coming out of a recession."