2013 Economic Forecast: The Good and the Bad

By Kelly McCarthy

February 5, 2013 Updated Feb 5, 2013 at 7:19 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Binghamton University and a potential boost to the local housing market -- with some help from the federal government -- are bright spots in an otherwise slow economic recovery, business leaders said Tuesday.

The Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce released its economic forecast for 2013, which provides a forecast for areas like job growth and the real estate market.

Local economists said Tuesday they expect a slow start to the year, but acknowledge one big positive that could make up for all the negatives.

"The thing to look forward to this year that we hope nationally and locally helps is the housing market," said Regional Economist Gary Keith. "Housing is really a big component of a recovery that's been really missing in action for several years."

The Greater Binghamton Association of Realtors saw a 6 percent growth in 2012.

A lot of those sales are going to first time home buyers.

"If you're seeing people starting to buy homes in this area then you can see the economics starting to come up in the area," said Thomas Reid, President of the Greater Binghamton Association of Realtors.

That trend is expected to continue for the Southern Tier if the Federal Emergency Management Agency comes through this year with buyouts of homes badly damaged in the September 2011 flood.

"What will happen is that these people will then need houses to transition into if they haven't transitioned into a buy already," Reid said. "If they've just been renting a house they're going to look to buy one."

Business leaders also showed confidence in an otherwise gloomy forecast for the manufacturing sector.

"Obviously the National economy pulled us back largely. Manufacturing hit hard, a lot of industry segments hit hard," said Christian Harris, Labor Market Analyst of the Southern Tier Region of the state's Department of Labor.

Economists say pressure in Washington to make sequestration cuts is causing one of this area's largest industries to slow down.

"Manufacturing is so important to this particular region, probably more so than any other part of New York State. Households depend on those manufacturing payroll dollars," Keith said.

That means there could be fewer jobs in a sector that once dominated the region.

The impact Binghamton University has on the local economy was commended at the breakfast event.

"There's greater influence of Binghamton University on our local industry. I think the incubator downtown is really a great concept and pulling out the research," Harris said. "Hopefully that brainpower and that product will bring up the manufacturing here locally."

They predict an upswing in manufacturing for the future, but for now it's the university's work that could bring job relief.

"Those kinds of things are transformational, it's slow but eventually I think they are good bets to help generate growth for this region," Keith said.