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      'Texas economist' brings encouraging news to the Panhandle

      The economy is something all of us are thinking about and during First Bank Southwest's Panhandle Economics luncheon on Thursday, speaker Ray Perryman addressed the latest trends.

      "The job growth is not as fast as we would like for it to be. The drought has been a big drain on the agricultural sector which is a big part of this local economy, it's slow right now", said President of Perryman Group Economic Research Corporation, Ray Perryman.

      But, the big question: What about double dip recession?

      Thankfully, says Perryman, that's where we might catch a break.

      "I think we're going to avoid the double dip recession. We've weathered a lot of things and continued to have a modest amount of growth. I think we'll be able to keep that up for the next few months and then when corporate America feels a little better about the world I think you'll start seeing more positive things happen", said Perryman.

      Although our Texas and local economies aren't skipping out on the recession, he says we are faring better than the rest of the country.

      "Texas has gained about 30 to 40 percent of all the jobs that have been gained in the entire country in the past eight to nine months. We did not overbuild as much as other places, obviously the oil and gas sectors had a really nice run for the past couples years", added Perryman.

      Not surprisingly, areas we are suffering in are byproducts of the drought.

      "The one negative being with what happened in agriculture. The cattle industry, the cotton industry, pretty much across the board", said Perryman.

      B ut Perryman says with enough knowledge, prayer and even rain, we might slowly start to see a turnaround.

      "When the economic turnaround happens, they can take that knowledge and hopefully create jobs, investments, whatever and really give our economy a boost", said CEO of FirstBank Southwest, Smith Ellis.

      "It's raining today...more rain would help a lot of things along", laughed Perryman, "on the whole, given what's going on around the country I think everybody can be quite grateful that they live in a place like this".