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North Carolina Economy To "Hit A Stride" In 2015

Economic Forecast

All economic indicators show continued growth across North Carolina in 2015.

Mike Walden is the William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist at NC State.  He predicts payroll job growth across the state could top 125,000 jobs in 2015 – that's a lot more growth than in 2014. 

Walden says the economy has finally began to “hit a stride” with modest housing recovery and labor market improvements.

“It looks like for the state as a whole, we’re moving into a higher gear and I think more people and more businesses in 2015 will become optimistic about the economy," said Walden.

Walden says despite the good payroll news, the state still has hurdles to cross.

“Pay is an issue. Pay has not recovered from the recession," said Walden.  "We certainly have a geographic divide in North Carolina, the big growth centers are still in the Triangle and Charlotte.”

Walden also says he predicts the state unemployment rate will drop to the mid-5% range in the new year.

John Quinterno is principal at South by North Strategies in Chapel Hill.  He says the drop in North Carolina's unemployment rate to 5.8% in November is positive news, but there are still concerns.

"At the same time, the reductions do not alter the fact that unemployment remains a pressing economic problem almost seven years after the onset of the last recession."

Quinterno says from November 2013 to November 2014, the state's unemployment rate dropped dramatically, but the size of the labor force shrank in 89 of 100 counties and almost in all of the state's metro areas.

Policies implemented in North Carolina in 2013, by incoming Republican Governor Pat McCrory, cut in half the number or weeks laid off workers could collect unemployment, along with the monetary stipend.

Leoneda Inge is WUNC’s race and southern culture reporter, the first public radio journalist in the South to hold such a position. She also is co-host of the podcast Tested and host of the special podcast series, PAULI. Leoneda is the recipient of numerous awards from AP, RTDNA and NABJ. She’s been a reporting fellow in Berlin and Tokyo. You can follow her on Twitter @LeonedaInge.
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