Chamber Releases Year-End Economic Growth Report
Published Monday, January 29, 2018

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More than 1,000 Mecklenburg County businesses announced the addition of nearly 13,000 jobs in 2017, making it the strongest year for job announcements since 2014 and a 16 percent increase over 2016. Capital investments and commercial real estate additions or improvements were down slightly in 2017. Mecklenburg County companies made $817.5 million in capital investments in the county, which included the addition or improvement of 8.4 million square feet of commercial real estate. Compared to 2016, which saw the addition or improvement of 11 million square feet of real estate and $1.1 billion in capital investments.

Several high-profile commercial real estate and hotel projects which began construction in 2015 or 2016, opened for business in Charlotte during 2017. That includes office properties such as 615 South College, 300 South Tryon and the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, which announced the addition of 250 jobs at its opening in November.

Professional services and technology firms continued to grow in the fourth quarter, led by AvidXchange’s addition of more than 400 workers on the heels of a major deal with MasterCard. FinTech consulting group Capco opened its eighth U.S. office with 20 employees and analytics-based startups Conclusive Analytics and Stratifyd continued to grow, adding five and four employees each. Growth in the insurance sector also continued with the expansion of Aflac’s Empowered Benefits office in Charlotte, which included 30 jobs. Kitchen tabletop manufacturer Caeserstone moved its headquarters and 69 employees to Charlotte as well.

The labor market continued to tighten in 2017, with unemployment falling to 4.3 percent in the county and 4.2 percent in the broader metropolitan statistical area. Wages rose 4.1 percent between the second quarter of 2016 and the second quarter of 2017, the most recent quarter for which complete information is available. That’s higher than the 2.6 percent increase compared during the same period a year prior. A Wall Street Journal survey of economists nationwide showed a large majority believe the U.S. economy is very close to “full employment,” meaning labor shortages and intensified wage increases could be on the horizon for 2018.

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