Black business leaders and clergy gathered at New Psalmist Baptist Church on Oct. 25 to hear from a local economist about coming trends in the global, national, and local economies.

About 70 people attended the Economic Outlook Summit, hosted by The Harbor Bank of Maryland and led by Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group Inc.

Anirban Basu, chairman and CEO of Sage Policy Group Inc. (Courtesy Photo)

Basu said the global economy has been on a downswing in recent years, with worldwide debt reaching an all-time high in 2016 of $215 trillion, which represents 325 percent of the world’s entire gross domestic product, or GDP.

However, America’s GDP has grown 2.2 percent since the Great Recession ended, buoyed by increased personal spending by consumers. Meanwhile, exports and imports have been the lowest contributing factor to the economy.

Many unfilled jobs remain, Basu said—since last year’s election, 1.8 million new jobs have been created, but the U.S. still has 16.8 million unfilled jobs, a record high. This trend is driven in part by the ongoing retirement of baby boomers, but also by a record amount of unemployment among young men. Basu said research he has conducted points to a large number of young men who “want to stay home and play video games,” and continue to be financed by their parents, rather than enter the job market.

Locally, Maryland has added jobs at twice the national rate, and ranks third nationwide in employment rates. Prince George’s County alone is responsible for one-third of all job creation in Maryland, and the state is also home to 120 of the country’s private firms and corporations. Basu said that Baltimore in particular ranks fifth among the top cities for entrepreneurs, and second in economic opportunities for minorities. Nationwide, Maryland ranks third in the number of African-American-owned firms at 23.5 percent of all businesses.