What did you expect?

A humor-filled forecast of a partly jolly new year

Jessica Swanson is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal
Here’s what we think, but first the fine print: The reading of forward-looking statements should be done as recreation and for personal enjoyment and should not be considered a business investment. The following statements are made with no more information that you may already have and should be given no more weight than you would give your astrologer. These are the ramblings of a trained professional and should not be attempted at home (or the office).

Expect energy prices to continue to rise, in your home by up to 50 percent and in your business by up to 20 percent this winter. Expect oil prices to continue to rise, peaking out at $100 a barrel. Expect to hire an energy efficiency consultant, and remember to shut the lights off when you leave a room.

Expect housing starts to level off and the market to soften up, if not the bubble to burst. New homes are being built at a rate across the country which so outpaces need for new homes that prices will begin to settle down. Small plat prices will continue to rise as energy prices stay high and environmental permitting increases. Condo conversions will continue, and the condo market should stay solid. Buyers continue to line up for commercial space in Clark County. Sell now. Retire.

Greenspan will step down. Interest rates will continue to rise. Expect fewer drop-offs like 2001, but prepare for a mini-recession every four or five years. (Don’t kill the messenger, but if you must, I heard it from Bill Conerly at the Red Lion last month.)

Employment growth in Washington will continue to outpace that of the rest of the country and may soon exceed that of Oregon, which spiked at the beginning of this year. Employment growth in Clark County will continue to follow the upward trend of the metro area, while continuing to have higher numbers. Expect many of those jobs to be less than the average wage and benefits, going to fill needs in the fast growing retail and service industries. Expect health care costs to continue to rise. Get a flu shot. Eat more vegetables.

Expect restaurants and bars to build patios for their smoking customers. Expect them to be 25 feet away from the establishment itself.

The statewide gas tax will stand. Expect $244 million in countywide transportation projects to move forward. Expect to sit in construction rather than traffic.

Expect a greater push than ever to be made by employers for job readiness and workforce development. Local high tech and engineering firms will push for programs at Clark College and Washington State University Vancouver as they continue to seek more qualified and educated professionals to compete with those in China and other countries. Expect to be asked to make a contribution to a K-12 math program. Expect to judge a science fair.

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