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N.C. Economy Continues Slow Recovery Through 2011

Here’s a look at the recover of the N.C. economy

Job Growth will be the Major Challenge for State and U.S.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – March 15, 2011 — After recording only a slight expansion in 2010, the North Carolina economy is expected to grow by nearly 3 percent in 2011, UNC Charlotte economist John Connaughton reported today in his quarterly Babson Capital/UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast for the state.

Following a 2.8 percent decline in 2009, Connaughton reports that the North Carolina economy is expected to expand by 1.3 percent in 2010.  The state experienced a modest 2.4 percent increase in Gross State Product (GSP) during the first quarter of 2010.  During the second quarter, GSP dipped and recorded an annualized real growth rate of 1.8 percent. GSP growth dipped again in the third quarter, recording an annualized increase of only 0.5 percent.  For the fourth quarter, Connaughton forecasts that GSP growth picks up considerably, reaching an annualized growth rate of 3.7 percent.

“Overall, the North Carolina economy suffered through a modest recovery year during 2010,” Connaughton said. “While the U.S. economy maintained a modest yet stable record of economic growth, the North Carolina economy started strong but had very weak growth during the spring and summer quarters.

“We have been able to struggle through 2010 without a ‘double dip,’ but the sluggish economic growth during the past year really hasn’t felt much like a recovery,” Connaughton added.

The Forecast, funded by Babson Capital Management and published quarterly by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, provides both a review of North Carolina’s recent economic performance and an estimation of the state’s future growth. Connaughton, who directs the Forecast, is the Babson Capital Management professor of financial economics at UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business.

2010 Sector Analysis
Eight of the state’s 11 economic sectors are expected to experience increases during 2010. The sectors with the strongest expected increases are:
•           Agriculture, with a real increase of 12.3 percent
•           Mining, with a real increase of 7.1 percent
•           Services, with a real increase of 4.4 percent
•           Wholesale Trade, with a real increase of 2.7 percent and
•           Retail Trade, with a real increase of 2.1 percent

Two other sectors – Transportation, Warehousing, Utilities and Information (TWUI) with a real increase of 0.3 percent and Nondurable Goods Manufacturing with a real increase of 0.2 percent – are also expected to grow, but with increases below the overall GSP growth of 1.3 percent.

2010 Jobs Outlook
In 2010, North Carolina establishments gained only 10,500 net jobs, an increase of 0.3 percent over 2009. The 2010 job gains follow the loss of over 282,000 jobs during the 2008-09 recession.

North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate began 2010 at 11.1 percent, over 1.5 percentage points higher than the United States rate.  By December, the North Carolina rate had dropped to 9.8 percent, while the United States rate had fallen to 9.4 percent. While the U.S. unemployment rate is expected to continue to decline slightly during the year, Connaughton expects the North Carolina unemployment rate to remain high during 2011, ending the year at 9.5 percent.
2011 Forecast & Sector Analysis
For 2011, Connaughton expects North Carolina’s real GSP to increase by 2.7 percent over 2010.  First quarter GSP is expected to increase by an annualized real rate of 2.9 percent.  During the second quarter, GSP should again increase by an annualized real rate of 2.9 percent. In the third quarter, GSP growth is expected to remain stable and record an annualized real growth rate of 2.8 percent. In the fourth quarter of 2011, GSP is expected to grow at an annualized real rate of 3.2 percent.

Eight of the state’s eleven economic sectors are forecast to experience output increases during 2011. The sectors with the strongest expected growth are:
•           Transportation, Warehousing, Utilities and Information (TWUI), with a projected real  increase of 5.2 percent
•           Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE), with a projected real increase of 4.9 percent
•           Retail Trade, with a projected real increase of 3.6 percent
•           Wholesale Trade, with a projected real increase of 3.1 percent and
•           Services, with a projected real increase of 3.1 percent

Three other sectors are also expected to experience output growth, but at rates less than the overall state level: Government, with a projected real increase of 2.6 percent; Mining, with a projected real increase of 1.4 percent; and Nondurable Goods Manufacturing, with a projected real increase of 1.2 percent.

2011 Jobs Outlook
For 2011, North Carolina establishments are expected to gain 46,200 net jobs, an increase of 1.2 percent over the employment level in December 2010.

Seven of the state’s 10 nonagricultural sectors of the economy are expected to experience employment increases during 2011.  The sectors with the strongest employment increases in 2011 are Wholesale Trade at 7.1 percent, FIRE at 2.9 percent, Retail Trade at 2.4 percent and Services at 1.7 percent.

“While the recovery in GSP is underway, job growth is likely to lag,” Connaughton said. “North Carolina lost over 282,000 jobs during 2008 and 2009, and it is likely to take four to five years to regain the lost jobs.  Job growth will be the biggest challenge for both the U.S. and North Carolina economies over the next several years.”

The UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast is published quarterly by the Belk College of Business. The full Forecast report is available at http://belkcollege.uncc.edu/forecast. Connaughton will release his next Forecast report in June 2011.

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