John Deskins assumed the director's post at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research on July 1, and he was immediately confronted with coordinating the fall lineup of economic outlook conferences annually given across West Virginia.
Undaunted, Dr. Deskins is nearly prepared for the first, set for Oct. 1 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Charleston.
Each year Bureau economists put the state's economy under a microscope and give analysis and predictions for the future in terms of employment, growth, population, income and trends in several sectors including energy, health care, construction, and wholesale and retail trade, among others.
"These outlooks are extensive," he said. "There are actually seven co-authors working with me, so it's a shared responsibility. We use an econometric model with nearly 50 variables, but that's just the beginning. It's a complicated and time consuming process, but we end up with a rigorous and reliable analysis and forecast."
In addition to the statewide forecast in Charleston, the Bureau will present regional predictions in Wheeling, Oct. 15; Martinsburg (Eastern Panhandle), Oct. 29; and in Morgantown on Nov. 12.
B&E Dean Jose "Zito" Sartarelli will deliver opening remarks at the Charleston event. Andy Bauer, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Baltimore branch, will present an economic outlook for the United States before Deskins' West Virginia outlook.
The event will close with a panel discussion on the implications of the forecast from the perspectives of representatives from the state's key business and industry sectors.
Deskins earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Tennessee in 2003 and 2005, respectively. He received an undergraduate degree from Emory and Henry College in 2000. He moved to Morgantown from Omaha, Nebraska, in June with his wife Sally, daughter, May, 6, and son, Henry, 4.
Before coming to WVU, Deskins served as an associate professor of economics at Creighton University, and while at the University of Tennessee he was a research assistant with that institution's Center for Business and Economic Research. His research has focused on the intersection of state spending and taxation and the effects on employment, small businesses and other macroeconomic topics.
He replaced Dr. Tom Witt, who retired from WVU after a career at the school of more than 40 years.
Those who attend the events will receive the West Virginia Economic Outlook 2014, the annual forecast that tracks county and statewide indicators such as jobs by industry, labor force, population and personal income. They will also receive presentation handouts from all speakers.
"We at the Bureau of Business and Economic Research are very happy to be able to engage the community and help explain and illustrate some of the economic issues that affect the state," Deskins said. "I'm looking forward to seeing a large turnout for these upcoming events."