The Idaho Statesman
Idahos economy and that of the nation will continue
to grow in 2004, Wells Fargo Bank officials told a gathering
of Boise business leaders Wednesday. After three very
lean years, the economy is poised for a significant and sustained
business expansion, said Spencer Eccles, chairman of
Wells Fargos Intermountain Banking Region.
Eccles and two other bank officials Sterling K. Jenson,
senior managing director of Wells Capital Management, and
Kelly K. Matthews, executive vice president and economist
for the Intermountain Region spoke at the 36th annual
Wells Fargo Economic Forecast at the Boise Centre on The Grove.
Heres what they had to say about economic trends for
The U.S. unemployment rate for 2004 should average 5.5 to
6 percent, Jenson said, down slightly from the 6 percent average
expected when final 2003 figures are calculated. Idaho should
see 8,575 new non-agricultural jobs created this year, with
unemployment averaging 5 percent, according to Matthews.
Inflation will remain in check, Jenson said, rising between
1.75 and 2.5 percent this year, compared to an estimated 2.4
percent in 2003.
Like the single-family home segment, total building activity
should drop 10.6 percent this year, according to Matthews.
But construction valued at $2.1 billion for the year would
still exceed 2002´s total value of just over $2 billion.
Matthews expects 1,200 fewer single-family building permits
to be issued this year, compared to the 10,200 issued in 2003.
That´s a drop of 11.8 percent from 2003, but still above
VEHICLE UNIT SALES
Matthews expects incentive programs to continue throughout
2004, leading to a 1.5 percent increase in total vehicle sales
in Idaho, to a total of 161,640.
Idaho consumers will increase their spending this year to
$11.8 billion for taxable goods, for an increase of 3.5 percent