Think Economic Recovery Is Weak? Blame Millennials, Slower Population Growth

Published: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 5:07pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - 9:08am
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(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Elliott Pollack speaks at the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Economic Outlook 2017 at the Arizona Biltmore.

A local economist is blaming slower population growth for Arizona’s sluggish recovery compared to past recessions.

Economist Elliott Pollack said the state’s population is projected to grow around 2 percent annually for the next several years. He compares that to the historic growth rate of 3.5 percent.

“They’d come here, they’d bring their families, they’d create a demand for goods and services that creates more jobs which brings in more people and it would spiral upward,” Pollack said during a presentation for the Greater Phoenix Chamber’s Economic Outlook 2017.

He also said millennials are marrying on average five years later than Baby Boomers, and many are postponing buying homes and having kids which means they aren’t buying as much ‘stuff’.

On the employment front, Pollack said the Phoenix metro area has seen the biggest recovery, capturing 86 percent of job growth from the bottom of the recession to today. Overall, he said the greater Phoenix area accounts for 73 percent of total non-farm employment in Arizona.

Pollack expects Arizona’s economy to continue to grow, but at a slower rate than past recoveries.

“This is the boom, this is as good as it’s going to get, until the population increases more rapidly," Pollack said.

He also said the possibility of a recession today is higher than it was earlier in the cycle, but still low.

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