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GAAS 2012: Economy Continues to Expand, But Slowly

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By
aftermarketNews staff

CHICAGO – Relative to what he presented last year at GAAS 2011,
William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of
Chicago, says he believes the economy has continued to expand, but not by much.

 

"We’re looking
at an economy that will continue to grow, slightly on trend or a little better
than trend, but nothing to write home about," Strauss said.

 

There are risks on
the near-term horizon, but they are external to the U.S., such as the European
recession and the slowing of the economy in China, Strauss noted.

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Strauss spoke at the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS), held annually at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

 

In the U.S., we’ve
had three years of economic growth since mid-2009, but it has been tepid,
Strauss said. The economy expanded by just 2.1 percent over the past year, due
in large part to the recession, and historically, recoveries tend to be a bit
weaker he says.

 

According to the May
10 blue chip report, the economy is expected to grow at 2.3 percent this year,
just slightly better than last year. The forecast path of current recovery is
relatively muted compared with past deep recession recovery cycles.

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"All we’ve done
is match past performance, creating large gaps between where we are and where
we should be," Strauss said, speaking of lackluster growth in labor rates
as an example.

 

One bright spot
however, is manufacturing, according to Strauss. More than 73 percent of the
output loss has been recovered from the manufacturing sector, he says.

 

"I remain very
optimistic on manufacturing," Strauss said. "Manufacturing capacity
utilization has been rising since 2009. It’s going be a very attractive place
to bring new business. Ever increasingly, we’re hearing about firms adding
capacity, expanding facilities, buying equipment."

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Strauss also noted the fact that while
manufacturing jobs have been rising, we have only recovered 21.1 percent of the
jobs due to an increase in productivity. "We continue to be more and more
efficient," Strauss said.

Each year, the net proceeds of the Global Automotive Aftermarket Symposium (GAAS)are invested in the organization’s scholarship fund to help students get their automotive aftermarket career started. Additional scholarship funding comes from industry contributions from individuals, companies and foundations. Since 1996, GAAS has given out over $1.6 million in aid and has helped over 1,600 students get their careers started as technicians, engineers, marketers, and sales reps.William Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, told  GAAS 2012 attendees he believes the economy has continued to expand, but not by much.

When attendees participate in GAAS 2012, they will receive CEU credits toward the University of the Aftermarket’s AAP/MAAP professional certificate program. GAAS has been approved by Northwood University for credit toward its Automotive Aftermarket Management degree. The 17th annual GAAS 2012, “One Industry, Endless Opportunities,” was held Wednesday, May 16 and Thursday, May 17 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL (near Chicago).

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