Expansion Expected to Continue

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Continued stellar growth in practically anything to do with computers should help offset a slowdown in industries hurt by the world economic slump and make the current expansion the longest in U.S. history, the government predicted Tuesday.

In addition to computers, other fast-growing businesses include telephone and broadcasting equipment manufacturing, space commerce, management consulting and public relations, accounting and the mutual funds industry, the Commerce Department said in its annual "U.S. Industry and Trade Outlook."

"The big winners are clearly the information sectors, which continue to plow on regardless of what's happening around the world," said Jonathan C. Menes, the department's director of trade and economic analysis. But, many industries -- from mining and construction machinery to leather goods to petroleum -- will continue to suffer from either slack world demand or competition from imports produced in countries with devalued currencies. Other businesses projected to suffer shrinking shipments in 1999 include apparel, newspapers and search and navigation equipment. The 800-page report, produced for the department by The McGraw- Hill Companies, forecasts trends in 137 manufacturing industries and 36 service and other non-manufacturing businesses. Growth should continue in more than 80 percent of them -- 144. Declines are expected in 27 areas and no change is expected for two. If realized, the sector-by-sector forecasts add up to another year of expansion for the U.S. economy, albeit at a slower pace than 1998's nearly 4 percent growth rate, said economist David Wyss of Standard & Poor's DRI, a McGraw-Hill division. …