Slow, Steady Growth Predicted For NC Economy In 2017

Dec 8, 2016
Originally published on December 9, 2016 3:19 pm

North Carolina's economy will grow another two percent next year - on par with growth in 2016, according to a UNC Charlotte economic forecast.

Like the national economy, the state's economy has grown at about 2 percent each year since the bottom of the recession. Report author and UNC Charlotte professor John Connaughton said 3 percent growth or higher is ideal, and that the state could get there by boosting worker productivity.

"And the way historically that you increase that is to increase the amount of capital and technology that workers have," he said.

Connaughton said that increasing the labor force can also boost economic growth, but that the state's labor force is unlikely to grow.

"The baby boomers are retiring," he said. "The generations that are behind them that will replace them in the working force are either about the same size or maybe even slightly smaller."

Connaughton said boosting economic growth to 3 percent could have big impacts down the road.

"It's not necessarily the current generation that really gets to benefit from a change from a 2 percent to 3 percent rate of growth," Connaughton said. "What happens is it's over a generation where the economy winds up being twice as big in 40 or 50 years than if would be at the 2 percent growth rate."

Connaughton also predicts wage growth for 2017, and an unemployment rate of around 5 percent.

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