ODU’s 2018 State of the Region report optimistic for growth in Hampton Roads


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — What do big ships, houses and beer have in common? 

According to economists at Old Dominion University, they’re part of what’s making Hampton Roads economy better then it has been since the recession. 

“There are more people working in Hampton Roads then ever before there are more people in the labor force then ever before, there are more jobs then ever before.” Dr. Robert McNab told WAVY.com.

“After a decade of stagnant economic growth and watching rival metropolitan areas prosper, perhaps it’s time to be more optimistic about our regional economy,” McNab said.

McNab, Director of the ODU Dragas Center for Economic Analysis & Policy, presented a very positive State of the Region report at the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Norfolk on Tuesday.

He said the area has recovered all jobs lost in the recession and sequestration.

McNab said that unemployment is approaching the 3 percent mark, which means just about everyone who wants a job has one. “The Hampton Roads economy not only grew last year, but we forecast it will grow this year.”

One reason for the growth he reported is that defense spending is increasing.

Just look to the shipyards and you’ll find lots of opportunities for jobs in high paying skilled trades.

The Dragas Center at Old Dominion University found consumer confidence is increasing. People are putting their money where their mouths are.

“You can’t go around Hampton Roads without running into a craft brewery,” McNab said. “Craft brewing jobs in Hampton Roads tend to pay twice on average than those in Richmond.” 

He said local entrepreneurs make more money per customer here than in any other places
in the United States.

ODU researchers also found that while more of us are moving into luxury apartments. Homes in Hampton Roads are also selling faster and for more money in all cities right now.

Our largest challenge, McNab claims, remains working as a region. “If we could collaborate and work together, not fight, but think about a shared region we’ll be better off.”


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