Researchers say Hampton Roads economy may be turning the corner

NORFOLK, Va. – Researchers say they are optimistic about the Hampton Roads economy.

Today, economists from Old Dominion University laid out their research about the area. “It looks like in 2017 we may have finally turned the corner,” said Dr. Robert McNab, citing statistics showing there’s momentum in defense spending, tourism, and the port.

Still, the economists say the area could do better at creating new jobs. “Think about your college graduate. They graduate. They cannot find jobs, so what are they going to do? They’re going to go to places where there are jobs,” said Dr. Vinod Agarwal. The report says more people are moving away from the area than moving to it.

The opioid crisis is also have a negative impact on the economy. “People who take opioids tend to move out of the labor force. They stop working,” said McNab. “We estimate a billion dollars in economic activity is lost a year because of opioid addiction.” The numbers are higher in Hampton Roads than the state average. “This is a problem that’s increasing in our region. It’s taking a greater, personal, and economic toll,” McNab said. “We need to address it immediately.”

As they look into the future, the economists return to a familiar argument: Hampton Roads would be better off if the cities worked more together.