Economic Recovery on a Leash Because of Legislative Jumble

Economic Recovery on a Leash Because of Legislative Jumble

The implementation of laws pertaining to America’s health care and banking institutions is keeping the economy on a leash, when it could be running free.

The Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank Act rollouts have collapsed into a jumble – a mass of things mingled together without order, a confused mixture, a disordered mass, said University of Central Florida economist Sean Snaith in his first quarterly national economic forecast of 2014. Individuals, employers in the public and private sectors as well as financial institutions are left wondering what to do next with the tangled mess of legislation.

The jumble creates uncertainty, which any economist will tell you, is no good for the economy.

“There is unfortunately no easy way out of this situation, no quick fix to the problems with these laws waiting in the wings nor are there impending answers to the plethora of questions they have spawned. There is just the jumble,” Snaith said.

The Affordable Care Act covers the rules and regulations as it pertains to health care and health care insurance. There have many delays in implementing portions of the law. The Dodd-Frank Act pertains to regulations that govern banks and other financial institutions. Many missed deadlines and vague language have hampered the rollout of that legislation.

“Until the rules are clear and predictable, the economy will be held back from a speedier recovery,” Snaith said. “Otherwise we might well be posting much better numbers and consumers would know it in their pocketbooks. ”

Despite uncertainty, the forecast has some promising signs. For the full forecast click here . Among the highlights in the forecast are:

  • The housing market recovery continues along its protracted path. The housing market should steadily improve through 2016. During 2014-2017, housing starts are expected to rise from 1,116,392 in this year to 1,537,138 in 2017.
  • Real consumer spending is expected to grow an average of 2.9 percent during 2014-2017, while mildly accelerating over this period. Consumer’s balance sheets are healing thanks to a housing-market rebound, and this will help support spending growth if housing-price gains can persist.

But there are also some problems, Snaith said, which are reflected in areas most consumers understand best: payroll and unemployment.

Payroll employment growth remains sluggish. Economic and policy uncertainty weigh on the private sector and firms are still hesitant to hire new workers, he said. Consequently, payrolls will only expand 1.6 percent in 2014 and then 2 percent in 2015.  Growth in 2016 will slip to 1.8 percent, before easing to 1.6 percent in 2017.

And while unemployment is expected to gradually fall to 5.4 percent in the 4th quarter of 2017, underemployment remains a serious problem and currently stands at 12.6 percent, Snaith said.

Underemployment represents workers who either are employed part-time because they can’t find full-time work or who have given up looking for work altogether.

Snaith also warns the story isn’t over.

“As the Affordable Care Act is eventually enforced over the next couple years, we must pay close attention to this broader measure of unemployment,” he said. “If companies alter their approach to managing labor resources and make a shift toward fewer full-time workers and more part-time workers in order to avoid either having to provide health care insurance, at what will likely be higher premiums, or paying fines for not providing it.”

Snaith is the director of UCF’s Institute for Economic Competitiveness. He is a national expert in economics, forecasting, market sizing and economic analysis who authors quarterly reports about the state of the economy. Bloomberg News has named Snaith as one of the country’s most accurate forecasters for his predictions about the Federal Reserve’s benchmark interest rate, the Federal Funds rate.

Snaith also is a member of several national forecasting panels, including The Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, CNNMoney.com’s survey of leading economists, the Associated Press Economy Survey, the National Association of Business Economics Quarterly Outlook Survey Panel, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters, the Livingston Survey, Bloomberg U.S. Economic Indicator Survey, Reuters U.S. Economy Survey and USA Today Economic Survey Panel.

The Institute for Economic Competitiveness strives to provide complete, accurate and timely national, state and regional forecasts and economic analyses. Through these analyses, the institute provides valuable resources to the public and private sectors for informed decision-making.