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  • Highlights from the 2021 Economic Outlook

  • Highlights from the 2021 Economic Outlook

    Highlights from the 2021 Economic Outlook

    Two recent events have no doubt shaped the current climate of our community, state and nation. We dove into these at last month’s Economic Outlook event. Joining us for a virtual discussion, two experts presented on data and trends, and offered analysis and insight to those in attendance.

    Rob Engstrom, chief political strategist, American Bankers Association, and founder, Wolfe Street Partners, provided an overview of the past, current and future political climate and discussed how it affects economic climate.

    Engstrom described election cycles and how just decades ago, Congress was close to a governing middle and compromise was possible. Now, the middle represents more of a Q-tip, and fewer races are competitive. “Our country has gone through what I call a protracted period of disruption,” he said. “People in the business community need certainty … in our politics that goes beyond our last four years and our recent and current administrations.”

    Engstrom also stressed the importance of understanding the impact of federal policy in local communities, which can range from a talent pipeline and infrastructure funding. “It’s imperative that the business community, in a non-partisan and bi-partisan way, assert clarity and assert their voice in primary elections,” he said.

    Despite the challenges we face and a political climate that remains bitterly divided, Engstrom said he is bullish in what the future looks like.

    Ron Wirtz, regional outreach director, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, presented on data collected from Minneapolis Fed surveys, including unemployment, labor force participation, revenue trends, recovery levels and more. He also discussed covid-related impacts on business and how the supply chain has been affected.

    In terms of employment, North Dakota did not see the same dip as Minnesota, but had a much flatter rebound. “While there are some positives in the economy, this is one that is worrying because the trajectory for getting back to pre-pandemic levels is really soft,” he said. However, there is some optimism as active cases decline and the vaccine makes its rounds.

    “I would be hesitant to say that were almost on the other side of this, because there have been so many changes and so much volatility,” he advised. “Be careful of taking that exhale. What we have to think about is how do we build the base higher so get to the other side, we are ready for launch.”

    Thank you to Marshal Albright, representing presenting sponsor Cass County Electric, for moderating the discussion.

    Thanks to these local restaurants for participating in our gift card offer for all attendees!

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