Movers of the economy

Date posted: May 16, 2011

There are always big forces that sweep through the world and have a lot to do with how we live. The development of information technology in recent decades is a good example. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden looks ahead to identify key forces that will shape our future economy.

“I think there are six forces. I call them the significant six. At the top of the list certainly is education and training of the workforce. What’s happened over the last really 30 years is we’ve had a movement toward brains at the expense of brawn. It really depends now, if you’re going to be a successful member of the labor force, (on) what you know in your head, how you can use that knowledge — and that’s really the key. So, certainly education and training, number one.

“But technology, number two — all the inventions that we’ve seen over the last 30 years, information technology, others. There’s going to be more of that in the future. We really don’t know what those inventions are going to be, but they’ll certainly help shape our economy.

“Demography, how many people we have, the ages of those folks — that’s going to be a key player in the economy.

“And then I think everyone recognizes that natural resources like energy, water — they’re becoming more limited. Their prices are going up. That’s going to be, I think, an area that we’re going to have to cope with.

“Global competition, not only in terms of our companies here in the U.S. competing with foreign companies, but global opportunities selling our products and services in foreign markets.

“And then lastly, I think somewhat of a major factor that’s really beyond economics, is geopolitical relationships — the position of the U.S. vis a vis the other countries in the world that are potentially competitors both in Asia, particularly, and the Middle East.”

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