Old Dominion University economists predicted economic growth would slow to 2.6 percent in 2007, falling below the average annual growth rate of 3.4 percent over the past 45 years. However, economic growth, measured in expansion of the region's gross regional product - the value of the goods and services produced here - was still expected to outpace the nation's.
The region's unemployment rate, researchers predicted, could rise slightly to 3.7 percent this year. About 6,200 new jobs were expected to be created in the region.
Ford Motor Co.'s decision to close its Norfolk F-150 truck plant, reduced residential construction and the end of jobs related to the Jamestown commemorative events this spring were expected to drag down job growth.
Housing market declines are expected to lead to fewer jobs in residential construction in 2007.
Smithfield Foods laid off 300 workers in October. Symantec Corp. announced in March that it was closing its Newport News office in July, eliminating 130 high-paying tech jobs.
Ford Motor Co. moved up the date for shuttering its Norfolk F-150 pickup truck plant to mid-2007 from mid-2008. That will eliminate nearly 2,500 high-paying jobs.
Hampton Roads is expected to gain 6,200 jobs, primarily in professional and business services; tourism services; and port services, including manufacturing and ship repair.
The Jamestown 2007 commemorative events were expected to add tourism jobs to the region, but those jobs weren't expected to last.
Major nonretail private employers
Northrop Grumman Newport News 19,000
Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk 14,500
Riverside Health System, NN 5,487
Busch Gardens Williamsburg/
Water Country USA, JCC 5,000
Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System, Suffolk 4,000
Bank of America, Norfolk 3,600
Smithfield Foods Inc., Smithfield 3,223