Looking for some semblance of positive economic news now that 2013 has arrived? UNC Charlotte Associate Professor Harry Campbell has just released his year-end analysis of economic indicators with a look ahead to the new year, and he sees signs for guarded optimism.
“Charlotte is again gaining ground, and our leading economic index points to further, albeit modest, growth,” Campbell says.
In fact, Charlotte added 2,000 jobs in October, expanded its labor force while driving its unemployment rate down and accordingly to the chamber’s New and Expanded Business report, nearly 100 firms almost doubled their pace of investment through the third quarter compared to the same nine months a year ago.
“Consumer confidence has been trending upward and there are even signs of life in the housing market. Barring unforeseeable events, we expect modest growth through the first quarter of 2013,” adds Campbell.
Campbell points to several factors as the reasons why:
- The pace of homebuilding is gradually beginning to increase, and overall the housing market has improved. The most current Standard & Poor’s Case Schiller index indicates Charlotte area home prices rose 4.1 percent compared to this time last year.
- First-time unemployment claims have dropped indicating slowly improving labor market conditions. Since this time last year, the labor force has expanded by about 10,000 while unemployment fell from 10.4 percent to 8.7 percent.
- Charlotte’s coincident index, or measure of current economic health, is up 5.6 percent month over year. That’s a big improvement from the 2010-11 period.
- Month over year job growth is up 8 percent.
- Taxable retail sales are up 2.1 percent over the year.
“The outlook for Charlotte’s economy is bright by recent standards, though the expected pace of economic growth will produce only enough jobs to slowly curb the rate of unemployment,” Campbell cautions. “While some of our economic news is very encouraging; other conditions such as a decline in manufacturing workweek hours and new vehicle registrations point to a wait-and-see period, which in the aggregate, is part of our nation’s economic problem. Based on leading index trends over the last six to nine months, I think we’ll see moderate performance in employment and/or retail sales through the first quarter of 2013. As for the new year, I expect Charlotte’s economy to grow at an annualized rate of 2.7 percent.”
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