Idaho Commerce Director Jeff Sayer started his budget pitch to lawmakers this morning by touting the achievement of Gov. Butch Otter’s “Project 60” goal, to raise Idaho’s GDP above $60 billion a year. He showed a chart showing it rising from $54 billion in 2009 to an estimated $64.7 billion in 2014. “We’re proud of it,” he said. “The bottom line is our little economy has passed that threshold that the governor had established as Project 60 a few years ago.” Then he acknowledged the big problem with those numbers: They’re not adjusted for inflation.
“We struggled last year with this chart,” Sayer told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “There was a fair amount of criticism when we stepped forward and announced that we’d reached $60 million, because a lot of people felt like we should be using real GDP figures,” with adjustment for inflation. In those inflation-adjusted figures, Idaho’s real GDP was $56.3 billion in 2008. It fell to $54.1 billion in 2009, rose to $54.7 billion in 2010, and stayed flat at $54.8 billion for each of the next two years.
“Here is the good news,” Sayer told lawmakers. “We finally got 2013 numbers, and all of a sudden the numbers started to fit what we were hearing from businesses. … So we’re fairly excited about what we’ve come through and where we’re at.” He said, “We have a right to brag about this, because you made decisions back in 2008 and 2009 that weren’t easy.” The 2013 figures Sayer displayed show real GDP, adjusted for inflation, rising to $57 billion in 2013, above the $56.3 billion level from 2008.