While the national economic recovery from COVID-19 persists, the Quad-Cities regional economy “continued to lack momentum” in the third quarter of 2021, according to the Quad Cities Chamber’s 3Q Quarterly Market Report released Wednesday.
There is, however, “evidence of a rebound on the horizon,” according to an eight-page report issued by the Quad Cities Chamber.
“Recent data shows shipping costs are falling after record levels earlier in the year, though shipping times are still high,” the report said.
The Quad Cities’ metropolitan statistical area (MSA) labor market also “is showing signs of a return to normal, though relatively slower than nationally due to the mix of industries in the region,” according to Kenneth Kriz, distinguished professor of public administration at the University of Illinois.
The report collects data from the region’s business sectors including manufacturing, logistics, ag innovation, defense, corporate offices and nonprimary industries. It is designed to provide information useful to organizations doing business or looking to do business in the region, according to the chamber’s news release.
According to the report, for example, unemployment rates are nearly back to March 2020 levels in the region, while “unfortunately, employers continue to be frustrated because the economy hasn’t experienced an increase in labor participation rates.”
To cope with that problem, Mr. Kriz notes, companies are looking at their onboarding practices, mentoring programs, apprenticeship models, training, referral and retention bonuses. Business owners also are deciding to invest in their current labor force to retain staff via training, skill development and organizational culture improvement activities.
The COVID-19 virus also will continue to impact the numbers in 2021 and beyond. “The ultimate path of economic growth continues to rely on coronavirus infection rates and whether supply chain and labor force pressure will abate,” the report said.
Looking ahead, the report’s Regional Market Summary said “As we move into winter, the uncertainty that we first discussed in the second quarter remains in place and may be even more pronounced. The consensus of economic forecasters in the Survey of Professional Forecasters is that the economy will grow at rates faster than historical trends throughout 2022.”
As the region discovered in the second quarter, however, “there is tremendous variability among the forecasters surveyed. The uncertainty is even more pronounced with respect to the path of inflation. The consensus estimate for inflation shows relatively high inflation in the fourth quarter of 2021, with rates of inflation returning toward historical norms during 2022. But the variation in individual forecasts ranges from rates twice the historical average to rates near zero.”