Local News

North Carolina Economy Is Still Growing, But Rate Is Slowing

Posted September 13, 2006

— The growth of North Carolina's economy is expected to slow over the remainder of 2006, but signs are good for a resurgence in 2007, economist John Connaughton of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte reported on Tuesday.

"Despite the current slowing of both the United States and the North Carolina economies during 2006, the expectation is that this is just a pause and that the expansion should continue in 2007," Connaughton said in his quarterly economic forecast. "In fact, North Carolina's economy is expected to grow by 2.6 percent during 2007."

The state's economy will show 1.5 percent in growth this year, he predicted. That's down from the 2.2 percent increase Connaughton forecast in June. Connaughton, the TIAA-CREF professor of economics at UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business, attributed the change to a slump in growth that carried over from the last sixth months of 2005. Higher energy costs triggered by Hurricane Katrina were among the reasons, he said.

Still, North Carolina's economy will grow for the fifth consecutive year, even at the smallest increase reported in that time, he said.

The economist forecast 2.6 percent growth in each of the last two quarters of 2006.

Connaughton also forecast that the state would add more than 79,000 jobs this year - an increase of 2 percent.

North Carolina's unemployment rate in July was 4.8 percent.

The forecast said nine of 11 economic sectors in North Carolina will show growth in 2006, including agriculture (6.3 percent), mining (4.5 percent), construction (4.1 percent), services (3.1 percent) and transportation, warehousing, utilities and information (2.8 percent).

Although the finance, insurance and real estate sector is expected to show meager growth (1 percent), that sector is forecast to add the highest percentage of jobs (3.5 percent). The construction (3.3 percent) and services (3.1 percent) sectors are also expected to add significant numbers of jobs.

Looking to 2007, Connaughton forecast quarterly growth rates of 2.1, 2.6, 2.4 and 2.6 percent, with growth expected in 10 of 11 sectors. Agriculture will lead the way with a growth rate of 7.6 percent, followed by services at 4.1 percent, he said.

Non-durable goods manufacturing is the only sector expected to show a decline. The state's manufacturing sector continues to lag the rest of the economy, with non-durable goods and durable goods showing flat or minimal growth over the past five years.

"This flat output growth in the manufacturing sector has led to a loss of over 200,000 jobs since January of 2000," Connaughton said.

Overall, Connaughton does see a smaller increase in new jobs - 63,600, or 1.6 percent- across the economy.

For complete details of the report, see:



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