Local Economy Will Continue Slow Growth Over Next Year, UNCW Experts Report
Monday, April 22, 2013
William W. (Woody) Hall, professor of economics and senior economist for the Cameron School of Business at UNC Wilmington, and Ravija Badarinathi, professor of statistics chair of the UNCW Department of Information Systems and Operations Management, forecast that the total economic output of the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area (Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender Counties) will grow 2 percent during 2013. This projected growth is slightly more than that of the state forecast (1.5 percent) and the same as that forecasted for the nation.
Hall noted that output growth over the next two years would likely not be strong enough to bring about an appreciable reduction in the area unemployment rate. The most recent unemployment data show February 2013 seasonally adjusted rates of 10.1% in Brunswick County, 9.1% in New Hanover County, 10.2% in Pender County, 9% in the state, and 7.7% in the nation. Although down from February 2012 rates, area rates are substantially above their 2007 levels, the last year prior to the beginning of the 2008-09 national recession.
Hall points to a couple of signs that the local economy is gaining momentum:
- The local residential real estate sector has stabilized, with both prices and volume having bottomed out.
- Area retail sales rebounded sharply over 2010 and 2011 and have continued to grow through early 2013. For the year ending January 2013, sales are up 5.5% in Brunswick County, 6.1% in New Hanover County, 0.7% in Pender County, and 4% statewide. On an annual basis, sales have rebounded to pre-recession levels.
- On the downside, the area’s unemployment rate has been above 8.5% since the end of 2009. This is the longest period of time that the rate has been this high since the mid-1980s.
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