Housing Downturn to Crimp Local Economy

Posted January 1, 2008

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— The new year could bring a slightly slower pace to Wake County's economy, as the turmoil in the national housing market could produce a ripple effect locally, observers said.

"I think the first six to nine months of 2008 will be iffy. Once growth slows, it will feel like a recession," said Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University. "I think the slow growth, the rise in unemployment, this is all generated by turmoil in the housing sector."

The unemployment rate in the Triangle is 3.9 percent, which is below the state and national rates.

But the economic downturn in other parts of the U.S. could prevent people from moving to the Triangle because they can't sell their homes.

That could slow the local residential construction industry, which adversely affects the economy.

"When you look at construction and all the industry that goes with it, that's 12 percent of our local economy. That's a big sector," Walden said.

Home builders are preparing for the expected slowdown, said Tim Minton, executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County.

"I think we have to recognize as a community that we're not going to grow at the same rate, and that may not be a bad thing in the sense that it allows us to catch up on things we're dealing with," Minton said.

Wake County's public schools, for example, didn't grow as much as expected this year, easing some overcrowding concerns. Enrollment growth predictions are also down for next year.

Walden said the slow start to 2008 should be followed by a strong finish.


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  • Gatsby Jan 2, 2008

    Over development serves only one master...The developers who pad their pockets by doing it. The turn-down in the ecomomy is just what was needed and probably the ONLY way growth would slow to a reasonable pace around here. Its like locust have decended on the triangle from 2000-2007 ....stripped the landscape bare and swallowed up all the resources need to support the community that has been here for decades.

  • TheWB Jan 2, 2008

    Doesn't exactly fit this story, but I wonder if a crime such as the one below should now be felony cosidering the water situation?

    MAIDEN, N.C. — Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water is draining from a water tower in Maiden because of recently discovered bullet holes.

    The tower holds 750,000 gallons of water for Maiden, which is just south of Hickory. Officials must wait for most of the water to drain because repairs must be done inside the holding tank.

    Catawba County Sheriff's deputy Major Coy Reid said the tower appears to have been shot three times with a high-powered rifle. He said authorities believe the shooting took place early Monday morning.

    Nearby residents heard gun shots but no one called authorities, so the damage wasn't discovered until hours later.

    Fixing the damage will likely cost between $15,000 and $20,000.

  • Space Mountain Jan 2, 2008

    Good, the housing growth in the area needs to slow down. It's already caused the price of homes to be overpriced for this area compared to what most people get paid.

  • atozca Jan 2, 2008

    "maybe this will cause the illegals to leave"... lol, no they will just go after another industry and the bleeding hearts will still claim they are "doing the jobs Americans don't want to do." I wonder what these bleeding hearts are going to say when they lose their jobs to the non taxpaying, work for less, under the table illegal who lives off the government......

  • imback Jan 2, 2008

    "so are YOUR grandparents legal. Probably not..."

    sigh. I really wish our public schools could turn out smarter people. You cant compare immigration today with immigration of 100 years or more ago. See, things change, laws change. It's whacky like that. The Immigration laws today were a product of the same govt that now refuses to do anything about illegal immigration. in the 60's the laws were turned on their heels and favored non-European countries. We have been paying the price ever since.

  • lornadoone Jan 2, 2008

    "Uh last time I checked they were clearcutting Umstead to build houses. But areas just on the edge of Umstead are being developed...but not the actual park."

    Should have made my statement clear - I didn't mean they were cutting into Umstead (although they're getting mighty close). Anyhoo, the huge houses around the edge kind of ruins the beauty of the park itself.

  • childfreeinrdu Jan 2, 2008

    Economists are about as reliable in their predictions as weather forecasters. In other words, I don't believe a word this guy says.

  • TheAdmiral Jan 1, 2008

    I for one believe that the housing market needs to slow here. We are doing two things - 1. Letting in too many illegals with no federal support and 2. Spending too much money on the school system with out spending money on infrastructure.

    I find it increasingly suspicious that all of those county and city council members continue to issue building permits when their water source is GONE. They are issuing building permits not thinking that the additional water draw will be that significant.

    Then six months down the road they are shocked that they can't get the same conservation rates as 5 years ago.

    They must really think we are morons, either that or they think the general public is that stupid to believe that their self-induced emergency won't matter at the polls. If you continue to vote for these jerks, then you need to go thirsty.

  • whatelseisnew Jan 1, 2008

    well since some think the laws are just a matter of perspective, I am sure you will not object when the school bus drivers break the new unnecessary law re talking on their cells while driving. In fact the ultimate solution would be to have the illegals without license or insurance drive the little kiddies to and fro.

  • John Q Public Jan 1, 2008