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Warm outlook for Lehigh Valley economy in 2014

Despite the cold weather outside, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce received a warm forecast concerning the regional economy at the annual Economic Outlook and Community Development Awards.

Jay Bryson, a Wells Fargo managing director and economist, expects the global economy to grow, while the gross domestic product is expected to increase by 2.5% yearly for the next two years.

Bryson is also predicting that while government spending will start to decline, business capital expenditures will increase, offsetting this. Also, even though consumers are looking to reduce their personal debt, the housing market will expand, with new construction growing by 15%.

The only limiting factor might the jobs market. Although the market is estimated to add a 190,000 jobs this year, 250,000 is the number that Wells Fargo economist thinks would be needed to boost consumer confidence.

Kamran Afshar, a local economist, from the survey of Valley companies, reported that many businesses are expecting to add workers this year. Kamran predicts that area workforces will expand dramatically in the first six months of 2014.

Nancy Dischinat, director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, does have some troubling news. She expects that many of the new jobs will require specialized training, leading to a mismatch between the required skills and the individuals in the Lehigh Valley that will apply for them.