Darrin Webb, a state economist, and Patrick Newport, of HIS Global Insight led the discussion at the forum. It is held twice per year. Newport was responsible for the national outlook. He said that the U.S. experienced a relatively rapid growth rate in 2015, but this was an exception to the rule. He said that current projections show the U.S. GDP will be at $5.3 billion in current dollars by the third quarter 2016. Even though personal income is expected increase, this trend is not likely to continue. Newport stated that “by historical standards, we’re not doing that well.” “The United States has had three quarters of a weak growth,” Newport said. Newport continued by saying that the U.S. economic system is still a envy to the rest of the world because it experiences dynamic innovation and changes. He said that “Compared to the stagnation of the European Union we aren’t doing that badly.” Webb was less optimistic about Mississippi’s future. “I think what I want you take away is that we have really slow growth.” Webb said that Mississippi’s GDP growth has declined four times in the past seven years. This is despite not experiencing back-to-back years growth since the 2007 recession. He said that this trend has slowed Mississippi’s recovery. Webb stated that the state’s economy has not seen “strong growth” in the past ten to fifteen years. It is a modest gain but it is significant. Webb stated that Mississippi’s historic deinvestment in human resources will remain a problem. Although it is too difficult for Webb’s office directly to measure, human capital can be described as the economic value an employee’s skills set. This value is derived from targeted investments in employees’ education, benefits or training that improves their quality or production.