From the Edmonds Mayor: The coming recession?

Mayor Dave Earling

I don’t know if you are as tired of hearing about the “coming recession” as much as I am, but I think we should have the courage to just schedule it so we know when it will happen! Understand the previous sentence is intended as pure sarcasm!!!

Having said that, we know we have been riding the longest sustained recovery in United States history…123 months… or more than 10 years! Yes, we are all proud of that fact and happy if we have benefited. But we do need to respect and acknowledge that economic good times will at some point conclude, or at least diminish.

And while our city and much of the nation are experiencing another very strong revenue year, I have previously mentioned we are starting to see a softening of certain key local indicators, which leads our finance staff, and us in the administration and council, toward a shift in attitude. That time is here.

Yes, our sales tax is still strong, albeit slowing a bit. Our real estate sales tax is down from the “hot” market of the past few years. Again, by most standards we still have a strong home sales market, but closer to “normal.” Our fees for construction-related activities are slower, but several large projects are coming on line and those numbers will improve.

While our numbers have softened, I expect 2020 to be another relatively strong year, but I caution again with the information I have shared above: We need to anticipate that change is coming.

I also recently read an article published in the Aug. 20 Daily Journal of Commerce in which 74% of economists from across the nation anticipate a recession by the end of 2021.

The article summarizes several concerns, including an increasing percentage of national economists coming to the same conclusion because of the growing impact of a slowing economy, the impact of trade tariffs and associated skepticism of any successful resolution with China, as well as rising international political tensions throughout the world. If you follow the stock market, you are aware of dramatic swings on a daily basis.

As we finalize the 2020 budget for presentation to the council and the public, we will certainly acknowledge our financial progress and successes. Yet at the same time we must reflect on growing concerns about the economic forecast as we now conclude over 10 years of sustained economic expansion and the eventuality of a slowdown.

— By Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling

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