HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – The economic outlook for 2023 is looking good for Hampton Roads according to professors at Old Dominion University.

Data shows Hampton Roads is likely to grow faster than the rest of the United States, but it all depends on how things shake up on Capitol Hill.

Per usual, defense spending will continue to provide a boost to Hampton Roads, which helps the outlook look more positive for the region.

Experts say roughly 40% of our economic activity is related to Department of Defense spending.

“So as department of defense spending grows so do we,” said ODU Economics Professor Vinod Agarwal.

Agarwal says they don’t anticipate a recession in Hampton Roads in 2023 unless there’s a financial fiasco in Washington D.C.

Agarwal and ODU Professor Robert McNab also said the labor market is concerning.

“You have less people in the labor force, employers have been trying to hire, creating more jobs, that’s drawing the unemployment level down so the unemployment number looks great,” said McNab. “But you still have the problem that there’s not as many people in the labor force as there was prior to the start of the pandemic.”

McNab says employers are willing to hire, but just can’t find the right people at the right time. He also says more people are retiring earlier now, which is contributing to workforce numbers.

“The big challenge is how do we bring these individuals back,” Agarwal said. “They have to be somewhat proactive in not just increasing wages, providing better working conditions, providing flexible hours.”

ODU sophomore Luke Scrivanich said the job market doesn’t concern him too much.

He said he plans to start building connections so he can get the best job when he graduates, and if he can’t find one, he’ll create one.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is really strong with me and it’s really strong here at ODU and even if there isn’t a job out there for me ill just make my own,” Scrivanich said.

Other students, like freshman Panagiotis Taoulas, said they want to take information from this forecast to be proactive and start investing now.

“I think the earliest you can start investing is best because you can actually start learning how the stock market works and then progressively get into knowing what you’re doing,” Taoulas said.

The Port of Virginia is also expected to hit new cargo records in 2023, which is positive news for the region.

And while all of this sounds good for Hampton Roads, political uncertainty in Washington continues to be a big concern.