Businesses, homebuyers, job seekers feel impact of uneven economy

From local pizza chain expanding to realtors watching shifts in housing market, 2023 is hard to predict

2023 is shaping up to be a momentous year for Miami Valley’s Old Scratch Pizza. After marked success — both at its original Dayton restaurant and three-year-old Centerville location — the local craft pizza and beer franchise is planning to open two new locations in Beavercreek and Troy.

“2022 [has been] our best year yet,” owner Eric Soller said, during a momentary break from final preparations inside Old Scratch’s upcoming Dayton-Xenia Road location, which is set to welcome the public next month.

That’s not to say this rapid expansion has been easy … or cheap.

The small business’ foray into Greene and Miami counties is coming at a time of significant inflation and drastic action by the Federal Reserve aimed at curbing those rising costs.

“It has made planning more difficult,” Soller said. “We were certainly racing to get financing secured ahead of interest rates going up, but … the costs of everything, it seems, are significantly higher than the last time we built a restaurant.”

Housing market comes down from “sugar high”

The same could be said about buyers looking to purchase a new home. After all, the repetitive interest rate hikes by the Fed over the course of this year — the most recent of which took place in mid-December — has made borrowing money more expensive.

The latest numbers on home sales in the Miami Valley do point to a slight cooling of the housing market. The number of Dayton-area home sales in November was down by almost a quarter compared to Nov. 2021, according to data released by the Dayton Realtors trade association.

But, it’s important to remember, the last couple of years have been anything but normal for the housing market, with scarce inventory and resulting bidding wars.

“It’s like we’ve been on a sugar high for the last few years, and our blood level is just starting to stabilize,” Dayton Realtors President Billie Duncan-Hart told the Dayton Daily News this month.



She believes that the local housing market is only just starting to respond to the Fed’s interest rate hikes, noting the start of a downward trend of housing prices.

It’s a trend that, in fact, is leading some realtors to advise their clients to consider buying, even if they might pay more in interest rates, short-term.

“It’s certainly not normal ... it’s normaliz-ing,”said Brian Sharp, director of market development with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Professional Realty in Beavercreek. “We’re not seeing tons of multiple-offer situations, or homes selling in hours,” he said.

That means less fierce competition, which can translate to lower home prices. And even if buyers do end up paying a bit more, short-term, in interest rates, Sharp said, many lenders are offering future, no-fee refinancing in the current market.

Job market wobbling

Still, it’s a big step to take amid uncertainty over what 2023 will bring for the larger economic picture.

After all, recent months have seen major U.S. companies — particularly in the tech industry — lay off thousands of workers.

At the same time, other industries have continued to voice a need for more workers, and the numbers show, jobs are out there in some sectors.

Ohio employers posted more than 305,000 job openings between Sept. 14 and Oct. 13 (the most recent data available), Ohio Job and Family Services told the Dayton Daily News. That’s up by nearly a quarter — 23% — compared to that same period in 2021.

Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate sat at 3.7%, up from 3.5% in July, but down from 4.2% a year prior. At the height of pandemic closures, in April 2020, unemployment in Ohio was 14.7%.

Hard to know what’s next

No doubt, there are a lot of numbers and predictions out there about what’s ahead in the new year.

For Soller, as he plans to open two new Old Scratch Locations, that’s translated to uncertainty, to be sure.

“It makes me nervous,” he said, bemoaning the fact that building the Troy location has been more expensive than the soon-to-open Beavercreek location, which itself has cost more than Old Scratch’s Centerville restaurant that opened in 2019.

But, armed with lessons learned during the pandemic — “It made us smarter, more nimble,” he said — he feels confident that whatever 2023 brings, Old Scratch is well-positioned.

“My hope is that everybody always loves great pizza, cold beer, and good service, regardless of the economic environment,” Soller said.

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