Dr. Stuart Allen, professor in UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics, was interviewed by The Archdale-Trinity News regarding a better-than-expected local economic forecast. He spoke to representatives of Archdale-Trinity businesses, saying “It’s tough not to be optimistic.”

Allen gave an economic forecast during a Jan. 16 coffee and conversation to 28 participants, organized by the Archdale-Trinity Chamber of Commerce at the Guil-Rand Fire Department’s Main Street station. The data source for Allen’s charts was the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Allen said the reduction in unemployment benefits  to 16 weeks may have nudged more people to find jobs. “We’d like [the unemployment rate] to be down around 5 percent,” he said.

Nationwide, workforce participation is down to 53 percent, an all-time low.

“Where have the other people gone?” he asked. “Some are on welfare, some have retired ahead of schedule, and more people than ever are on disability — in fact, that may be a bubble.”

Globalization as a growing factor in careers was also a hot-button topic, with more jobs that require training in technology. “It’s creating a winner and loser society,” Allen said. He also predicted that “student loan default is going to be the next bubble.”

Interest rates are beginning to increase and dollar exchange rates have steadily increased since 2011, both of which Allen feels are a good sign. “The economists’ best guess is that the inflation they had predicted won’t come about in the twenty-teens,” he said. “And the stock markets think that 2014 is going to be a good year.”