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Detroit’s on a roll, PNC economist says

Detroit Skyline (bright)

Being a Detroiter is starting to signal economic benefits.

Contrary to widespread perception in the wake of municipal bankruptcy, the city’s enjoying gradual signs of job growth and housing market recovery, according to PNC Bank research.

In fact, doom-speaking and fears about the nation’s overall financial health are unwarranted right now, Stuart Hoffman, PNC Financial Services Group chief economist, said in an economic forecast at the Detroit Athletic Club this week. Hoffman seasoned his engaging talk with humor that drew frequent laughs. Pointing out index cards for audience questions, he told guests, “I will try to answer as few of them as possible.”

A senior vice president of PNC, he joined the bank in 1980 after working six years with the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Hoffman is regarded as one of the most accurate economic and interest rate forecasters in America.

Stuart Hoffman, PNC Financial Services Group chief economist, at the Detroit Athletic Club

Stuart Hoffman, PNC Financial Services Group chief economist, at the Detroit Athletic Club

He says Detroit has “made a lot of strides” and national anxiety about the economy will likely subside after “political uncertainty” is resolved with the presidential election.

As the national unemployment rate slightly drops from 4.9 to 4.7, middle-income jobs in Detroit should increase about 3 percent this year, he says.

“The other thing that’s clearly affecting our economy is what’s happening in oil and energy,” including direct job loss and supplier-related declines, he says.

But less fuel and energy spending, Hoffman adds, is generally positive for Americans in saving or other spending in their communities.

Detroit lines up with the forecast of a 4 percent housing sales increase, and Hoffman says the metro area can expect an overall job increase of about 20,000 in 2016.

“You live here, you’ve been through a lot,” he said. “So we think this is another year of moderate economic growth for this region.”

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