Lackluster economic outlook likely political fodder - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Lackluster economic outlook likely political fodder

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Analysts blame the GDP shrink on Affordable Care confusion and harsh winter weather. (Source: WAFF file) Analysts blame the GDP shrink on Affordable Care confusion and harsh winter weather. (Source: WAFF file)

UAH professor Jeff Summerlin Long said political figures across the country and in Alabama will probably make hay over less-than-stellar economic news.

Latest figures show the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, all the goods and services America produces, shrank 2.9 percent in the first quarter of this year. Those numbers are much worse than earlier estimates.

"Everybody sort of knew that it was going to go down a little bit, but to go down as much as it did was somewhat of a shock," said Long.

Long agrees with analysts who blame confusion over the Affordable Care Act and harsh weather for a drop in consumer spending. Although, if people don't get back to spending and businesses back to investing, another negative quarter would put us officially in a recession, even in a normally strong area such as Huntsville.

"People who are not aerospace engineers and not in a very stable federal-type job will probably suffer some from it," advised Long.

The professor said signs like more manufacturing activity and more businesses that are hiring point to improvements in our current quarter, and less gloomy news for the politicians.

"You can see it being spun politically by anyone who is challenging an incumbent," he said. "I think it's a little bit disingenuous to take a little snippet of time, during which we had some fairly bizarre combinations of events that seem to have caused this, to then use that for political gain. But they definitely will try."

The Commerce Department is scheduled to give us a look at how the economy is doing in our current quarter at the end of next month.

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