Chamber told economy growing, just not quickly

By KAITLYN NAPLES
STAFF WRITER
While the state’s economy might not be growing as quickly as some would hope for, it is still growing, reported Nick Perna, economic advisor to Webster Bank.
In Connecticut, Perna said “the economy is not dead. It’s not growing very rapidly, but it is growing.”
At last Tuesday’s Central Connecticut Chambers of Commerce Economic Forecast Breakfast, Perna told the crowd the nation started off its year better than it ended last year, while not having to worry about a sequester or fiscal cliffs, as of right now.
“This was the best start to a year that we’ve seen in years, nationally,” he said, adding housing sales are on the rise, even though the cost of homes is increasing as well, but car sales were the most notable.
Looking to the future, one attendee at last week’s breakfast asked Perna if his grandchildren would see Social Security payments.
“Our children and grandchildren won’t see as much Society Security as we have,” Perna said, adding that in fact, younger generations will see their benefits come later in life and they will be smaller.
“We need to rein in medical costs and make sure Medicare rises less rapidly,” which Perna said would help to lessen budget issues that may come up in the future.
In the last year, Perna said the state has gained about 11,500 jobs in the last year. He said since the recession hit in 2007, Perna said the state’s public sector has regained about half of its lost positions, and the private sector has regained about 60 percent. He said this isn’t necessarily because of the lack of job creation, but it also attributed to retirement and other factors. He said by next year the state should see 20,000 more jobs gained, and 30,000 by the following year.
“If the number of jobs goes up, so does everything else,” Perna added.
In the past, he said the state government has dealt with budget problems in “crisis mode,” for example the income tax. Since this year is a gubernatorial election, Perna said he plans to vote for a candidate who will really think about restructuring the state’s spending, “and be careful about using taxes to raise revenue.”
Perna said he does not  expect inflation to increase, and rather expects salaries to rise faster than inflation.
Perna is a graduate from Boston College and has a Ph.D. in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1999, he founded Perna Associates, which specializes in economic analysis, forecasting and strategy, a press release from the chamber said.
Before that, Perna was chief economist for Fleet Financial Group, Shawmut Bank and Connecticut National Bank. He was also an economist with General Electric, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in Washington. He has taught at Williams College, New York University’s Stern School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California. Nick currently teaches a seminar on the U.S. banking system at Yale, the release added.