2014 economic outlook for NC: Continued growth, says expert
Posted December 22, 2013
Updated December 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina's economy outpaced the national economy in 2013, and the state's unemployment rate – 7.4 percent as of November – is the lowest it's been since Fall 2008.
So, what does the state's economic outlook for 2014?
Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, says economic growth is forecast to continue at a somewhat accelerated pace.
Nearly three-quarters of new jobs in the Tar Heel state since 2010 have been in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte area, Walden says.
He expects job growth in these areas to continue next year, particularly in the Triangle and Charlotte area, where he predicts unemployment rates will drop close to 5 percent by the end of 2014.
But that is also a challenge for the state, too, Walden says, as the economic divide between metro and rural areas will grow.
Another area of growth: the construction industry.
While most industries have experienced job growth, the construction industry has not. Walden expects that to change in the coming year.
"I think that will be a big plus for our economy in 2014, not just in terms of total job numbers but construction offers workers who don't have a lot of skills employment opportunities," Walden said.
Existing home sales statewide in 2013 were at their highest level in 6 years with annualized price increases near 6 percent.
Walden sees the housing market continuing to recover.
"I think we'll see sales improve faster," Walden said. "I don't think we're going to see the kind of housing price increases that we've seen in recent years."
In his final analysis, Walden predicts the trend of more people getting back to work will continue in 2014 with the state seeing more than 100,000 new net jobs.
"We're on an upward climb here, which is good, and we're climbing a little bit faster than the nation," he said.
North Carolina does face several economic challenges, however, including a skills mismatch between what employers are looking for and what job seekers can offer.