by Dave Caldwell, North Carolina State University
RALEIGH — Things are looking up economically in both North Carolina and across the nation.
That is the conclusion of Dr. Mike Walden, economist and William Neal Reynolds distinguished professor at North Carolina State University.
Walden provides a North Carolina Economic Outlook every six months, and in his latest outlook, for summer 2013, he sees both the national and state economies growing and adding jobs over the next two years.
Walden predicts that 2 million new payroll jobs will be created across the country this year, and 2.5 million added in 2014. That will push the unemployment rate to 6.8 percent by the end of this year and to 6.2 percent at the end of 2014.
North Carolina’s economy may actually be growing a bit faster than the national economy, Walden says. He expects the state to create 100,000 jobs this year and again in 2014. That should put the state’s jobless rate at 6.8 percent at the end of 2014.
Walden says a nationwide manufacturing revival is particularly apparent in North Carolina. The state is also expected to benefit from what the economist calls a “construction surge,” a large pool of college graduates available for knowledge-based industries and retirees moving to the state in large numbers.
Most economic indicators are trending upward, Walden pointed out, while inflation remains low.
Consumer spending tends to drive the American economy, Walden explains, and the 2007-2009 recession sliced into consumer spending dramatically. Household asset values decreased by $17 trillion.
Over the last three years, Walden says, household asset values have rebounded, which is good news for the economy.
While the North Carolina economic picture is rosy, it is rosier in some places than others.
The Asheville, Durham-Chapel Hill, Charlotte and Raleigh-Cary areas have seen the greatest economic growth and are likely to continue to see the most growth and lowest unemployment rates over the next year and a half. Walden expects less growth and higher jobless rates in the Fayetteville, Hickory and Rocky Mount areas.