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AUSTIN-The Texas economy may pick up in the second half of 2003–if the national economy does too. That’s the forecast delivered to members of the Greater Austin Chamber by Keith Phillips, a senior economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank.

Phillips says the Texas economy tracks the national economy and is no longer driven by energy prices. He expects the national economy to revive next year, barring war or terrorists’ attacks that could halt a turnaround. Consumer demand may be weak into 2003, but he said banks and the financial sector should remain healthy.

Austin’s focus on high-tech put it in the front lines of the tech crash, he said. Layoffs have totaled at least 22,000 and construction spending dropped for the first time since 1989. He said the tech market may have hit bottom. The semiconductor may have bottomed out and sales of computer equipment show signs of increasing.

In the long term, Phillips said Austin’s economic strengths should allow it to outperform the Texas economy, which itself should grow faster than the national economy.

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