By Joy Vann

Each June, economists from the Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University reassesses local, state and national conditions to forecast prospects for the year ahead. The Dragas Center’s Director, Bob McNab, and Deputy Director, Vinod Agarwal, will share their views at an annual breakfast hosted by the Virginia Peninsula Chamber on Friday, June 7, at the Holiday Inn, 980 Omni Boulevard in Newport News.

Tickets are $45. Online registration and table sponsorships are available. Contact Allie Carson at the Virginia Peninsula Chamber ( for more information.

In a preview of his talk, McNab, chair of the University’s economics department, said labor markets continue to thrive across the board.

“Employers continue to add jobs nationally and across the state, more people are in the labor force and employed, and job openings remain above the pre-pandemic peak,” he said.

McNab added that as corporate profits continue to sustain a rise in equity prices, he expects to see continued growth through 2025.

However, he noted that when examining the touchpoints of the economy — housing,  food and fuel — it is easy to understand why consumer sentiment is relatively low when compared to previous economic expansions.

 “While consumer sentiment has improved recently, it remains well below the pre-pandemic average, even though the national unemployment rate is below 4%, Virginia’s unemployment rate is below 3% and real wages have grown in 2024,” he said.

“We project consumer sentiment will continue to improve through 2024, barring any unexpected economic shocks and should improve in 2025 unless there are significant and adverse changes in immigration or trade policies.”

Agarwal, Economic Forecasting Project Director, will deliver the updated 2024 Hampton Roads economic forecast, discussing the performances of the labor, hospitality and housing markets.

He said the most recent data indicates the labor market performance has improved since January’s report.

Agarwal also said Department of Defense spending — which accounts for 40% of the area’s economic activity — is again flowing after an appropriations bill was approved after it had been held up by a congressional impasse.

“The economy is doing well. So far it appears to be going in a positive direction in terms of jobs, performance of The Port of Virginia, and the housing market,” Agarwal said. “They continue to plug along, and we think that 2024 will be as good as 2023, if not better.”

The Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy conducts a variety of economic, demographic, transportation and defense-oriented studies. It produces State of the Region Reports for Hampton Roads and the State of the Commonwealth Report.