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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Economist Predicts ‘Pretty Good Summer’

 

By Jack Fichter

MAYS LANDING – “I think it’s going to be a pretty good season.”
That according to Richard C. Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College who has been active in economic development in south Jersey for over 20 years preparing economic, marketing and demographic studies for public agencies and private businesses.
The Herald has checked in with Perniciaro each February for the past two years for a forecast of the upcoming tourist season and his track record has been 100 percent correct.
He told the Herald the Atlantic City Expressway last year had the best year in its history for toll receipts despite $4 per gallon gasoline prices.
“If you look at that, there is something out there, we certainly have a hedge against the bad economy at least for the tourist season,” said Perniciaro. “From what I understand, the rentals are going pretty well…”
“With the economy not looking good, I think for a lot of people the shore is in fact their cheaper alternative,” he continued.
The county’s beaches are closer to home than other destinations.
“For those reasons, I think it will be a pretty good season again,” said Perniciaro.
The very high priced rental may take a little bit of a hit as people try to save money and squeeze a couple of families in each rental to share cost, he said.
Perniciaro said shore communities did well last year despite high gas prices. He said in his lifetime, he has not seen the economy get so bad that it cuts into local tourism.
“To me, gas prices at $4 would be more intimidating to people than the economy now,” he said.
While the Canadian currency exchange rate is slightly more favorable to the United States this year, the alternative for Canadians is getting on an airplane and traveling further away, said Perniciaro. This county’s beaches are the closest beach resort to much of Canada.
The economy took a nosedive in this county in the late 1960s, early 70s but the closest economic downturn to the current one was 1982 when the state unemployment rate was over 10 percent, said Perniciaro.
He credits large pool of people within in an easily traveling distance to keeping the tourist economy alive here.
“Normally we are at 100 percent capacity, so who knows how many people are out there in the summer that really wanted to come here and could not find a place,” said Perniciaro.
On the national front, he doesn’t think President Barrack Obama’s economic bailout plan will provide a quick solution. He said he would like to have seen more spending up front and not strung out over two to four years.
Perniciaro said it may be difficult to get workers and materials for infrastructure projects. He suggests more of a tax cut upfront to so people spend money immediately.
“The recession will run its own course, we are in the 15th month,” he said. “A recession over in two years would be sort of radical.”
Perniciaro said Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland counties have the highest unemployment numbers in the state. He said Cape May County may lose some year-round jobs.
“Our economy is mostly discretionary income,” he said. “People come here because they want to, not because they have to.”

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