The Washington, D.C. area has emerged from the recent recession with Northern Virginia leading the way, a George Mason University economist recently told local Realtors.

George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller said the economic recovery has been underway for about 17 months and is stronger than analysts expected.

He pointed to bright spots for the No. Virginia economy:

1) Employment: Fuller said the manufacturing segment has led the economy out of the downturn with increased hiring for 17 months in a row. Gross domestic product is higher now than when the recession started in November 2007.

2) Housing Shortage: He also predicted a future housing shortage for the region.
According to Fuller, the area likely will absorb about 700,000 more people in  coming decades and needs to build about 35,000 housing units per year to keep up  with demand.

While some apartment developers may err on the side of overbuilding, Fuller said  more condominiums and smaller townhouses and single-family house are  being  built. The number of larger single-family developments is declining

But don’t uncork the champagne just yet.  He also said consumer confidence remains low, despite the good economic news.