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Report: Cincinnati region economy improving, but could do better

The Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky regions' economy continues to bounce back from the recession that began five years ago, according to a new economic outlook report.

But the economic outlook report issued Wednesday said more can be done to pick up the pace.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce issued a report Wednesday that forecasts a two percent increase in gross regional product in 2014, compared to 1.4 percent this year.

But one of the authors of the report, Brian Richard, Macy's vice president of economics and sales, told a breakfast meeting of both chambers at a downtown hotel Wednesday morning that is not good enough.

"About two percent is what we have grown since the start of the recession and two is very sub-par for an economic expansion,'' Richard said.

Richard says the report shows employment in the Cincinnati metro area was about 97 percent of what it was in August 2007, at the beginning of the recession. He forecasted an increase of of 1.4 percent next year, or an increase of about 14,000 new jobs.  The region, he says, must find ways to do better.

"When you look at what you see in the news today, the real issue should always be how do we grow faster,'' Richard said.

The report showed that 901,800 people were employed in private sector jobs in August of this year - 97.6 percent of the the number employed before the recession began in August 2007.

Employment today in the "leisure and hospitality" sector is nearly 103 percent of what it was in August 2007, the report said. That is almost entirely due to the opening of the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati, Richard said.

The committee that wrote the report concluded that the forecast for 2014 is for "continued slow recovery, although at a faster rate of grown in 2014 than in 2013.