BRADENTON - Manatee County's economy is off to a slow start this year but is expected to grow and expand as 2013 comes to a close, economist Hank Fishkind predicted Thursday.
Speaking at the annual economic forecast breakfast sponsored by the Bradenton-Area Economic Development Corp., the Orlando economist said the housing recovery underway is strong with sales and pricing up significantly and, with unemployment claims continuing to drop, more hiring is expected.
"We are making good progress," Fishkind said.
Once the fiscal problems nationally are worked out, he said he expects the $85 billion a month being pumped into the economy through federal stimulus dollars will have a significant impact.
Fishkind predicted tax and entitlement reform measures will be passed by Congress.
With a 1.6 percent job growth in Manatee County for the past year, he said this metropolitan statistical area is one of the best performing areas in the state.
But the state's huge foreclosure numbers continues to be a drag on the housing industry. "It is enough to restrain housing prices," Fishkind said.
The breakfast, head at the Bradenton Auditorium, was attended by several hundred business and government leaders who applauded EDC Chair John Rice's prediction that the economy in 2013 will be good with record-breaking growth stimulating big purchases in appliances. Rice is the owner of Rice's Appliances and HDTV.