Econometer: What are you thankful for about the economy?

As we prepare to close out the year, San Diego County’s economy, thanks in part to low unemployment rates, appears to be trucking along despite higher prices for gas and food, rising interest rates and concerns about a broader economic downtown.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s panel of economists and business leaders reflect on the past year and share what they’re grateful for this year.

Q: What are you most thankful for, economically, this Thanksgiving weekend?

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James Hamilton, UC San Diego

Learning to live with COVID. The disease is still with us, but we’re back to work, back to school and back to enjoying life, while continuing to follow sensible precautions. Thanks also to the pharmaceutical companies, health care providers, and volunteers who helped us turn the corner and move forward despite the constant emergence of new variants. People in China today are less fortunate, as their economy and personal lives continue to be upended by lockdowns.

Austin Neudecker, Weave Growth

Record employment. Commonly monitored economic indicators currently point in opposing directions. At this stage, I am glad that many Americans have a source of income to weather the rising costs. While large tech layoffs capture headlines, unemployment remains at record levels. Many other countries are experiencing inflation and public market declines combined with declining employment. I hope we can substantially avert the same fate.

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

While it’s not economic, I am thankful to be part of an organization that came through the worst of COVID together, although I expect we will not see the end anytime soon. And I am thankful and impressed that, despite the challenges of a pandemic, we came through for our patients, earning top marks from Leapfrog for safety and being named in the top five medium-sized U.S. health systems for quality by Merative.

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

My cup runneth over in terms of the necessities of life. I recently retired from academics and now work part-time, consulting, on boards and with some non-profits. My son-in-law does not need any money, and my step-daughter got a job. Retaining a relationship with the Burnham-Moores Center and USD alumni is pure fun now. Once you get past basic economic independence, nothing else compares to health and having a loving family and good friends.

Kirti Gupta, Qualcomm

Not participating this week.

Jamie Moraga, Franklin Revere

Small-business owners. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they face many obstacles, including high gas prices, supply chain issues, inflation and labor shortages. Small-business owners have been stretched thin, have had to wear many hats, work long hours and endure many stressful situations to keep the doors open for another day. I am thankful for these small-business owners who pour blood, sweat and tears into their businesses and work hard for their American dream.

David Ely, San Diego State University

Solid job market. The US job market has remained healthy in 2022 despite weaknesses developing in other parts of the economy. Over the past year, both the US and California unemployment rates have fallen and job openings remain high. BLS reports that monthly job growth has averaged 407,000 so far this year. I am also thankful that supply-chain bottlenecks have eased and that broad measures of inflation have declined from their recent peaks.

Ray Major, SANDAG

Not participating this week.

Caroline Freund, UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy

I am thankful that democracy won the midterms. Voting was largely uneventful and election deniers conceded peacefully. While a stable democracy has huge intrinsic benefits, it also matters for economic growth, which requires policy predictability. I hope the US can now become a better and more reliable global leader.

Haney Hong, San Diego County Taxpayers Assoc.

You, even if we don’t know each other. It’s your engagement with your family, your neighbors, your friends and your broader community that keeps the economy going and growing. It’s you who does the hard work, who pays the taxes; it’s you also who plays hard enjoying what public good the taxes generate. You are the source of all of this economic activity that makes the world richer while making it more enriching.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

Freedom from coercion. “What is the basic, the essential, the crucial principle that differentiates freedom from slavery? It is the principle of voluntary action versus physical coercion or compulsion.” — Ayn Rand. Since humans must sustain life by their own effort, those who have no right to the product of their own effort have no means to sustain their life. Those who produce while others dispose of their product are therefore slaves. Thankful to not live under such conditions.

Lynn Reaser, economist

An easing of COVID risk. This Thanksgiving has displayed a much lower COVID-19 risk than in the previous two years. Hospitalization and death rates are down significantly. For example, weekly death rates have fallen from over 23,000 to about 2,000 currently. Weekly average hospitalizations have dropped from nearly 22,000 to fewer than 3,400. New technology COVID vaccines have allowed Americans to travel again and resume a more normal lifestyle. With higher inflation, this is at least one bright spot.

Phil Blair, Manpower

I am grateful that San Diego companies are continuing to provide job opportunity for any San Diegan that wants to work. The challenges and stress of inflation, rent and home costs are certainly lessened when everyone has a job.

Gary London, London Moeder Advisors

The midterms: By reasserting their belief in democracy, American voters pointedly told our policymakers that while they can continue to disagree on the details, go make policy. I saw this election as a resounding message to stop the circus antics and address inflation, cost of living and possible recession. The how and if they can solve all of that remains a very open question. But I am at least thankful that voters offered up that message.

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

The strong labor market for workers. While inflation does hurt everyone, the loss of a job is crushing for the person and the household for which that occurs. Despite the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, the labor market remains strong, with the unemployment rate remaining below 4 percent and the economy regaining all the jobs lost during the pandemic. The high number of job openings means workers have more choices and could provide a buffer if the economy slows.

Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates

I am thankful that we have survived three errors by the administration: over juicing the economy causing inflation and dollar devaluation, a virtually open border and a virtual freeze on fossil fuels. I am thankful for the continued hard work of our tourism community to bring visitors to San Diego, our phenomenal attractions, our great companies in communications technology and biosciences and our great universities that provide research and training for all of San Diego.

Have an idea for an Econometer question? Email me at phillip.molnar@sduniontribune.com.