University of North Carolina Wilmington
University of North Carolina Wilmington

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Swain Center Quarterly Economic Briefing

By the Numbers

By the Numbers November 2017

*YoY = Year over year, change from 12 months prior

Economic Outlook

The National Economy, Almost the "Old Normal" Again? 

Advanced reports of third quarter GDP, how much “stuff” the US produces, suggest strong growth for the second quarter in a row, despite hurricane disruptions.  The reports of strong growth are in line with other indicators of growth including strong business sentiment and economic growth abroad providing a lift to exporters in the US.  The “new normal” over the past decade has been relatively slow growth, restrained by a recession, demographic changes, and slow productivity growth of around one percent, leading economists to expect growth on the order of 2% per year rather than the “old normal” of around 3%.  The latest readings of strong GDP growth and the uptick in productivity, to three percent, is a promising development; however, one or two data points do not make a strong trend.  Looking forward, there are some open policy questions to resolve: will the current administration get a tax cut through and what will the economic effects be?

Unemployment Rates

The Regional Economy: Growth in Low Paying Sectors Masking Labor Market Strength

The regional labor market is mirroring the national with a slight delay.  The regional labor market tightened until mid-2014 when the number of unemployed per job opening bottomed and wages began to increase as firms competed for workers.  Over the last three years, the labor market has loosened, but only slightly.  The labor market remains a sellers’ market as firms are competing for talent again.

Data on overall wage growth masks the underlying strength of the local labor market as the regional average is held down by recent job creation in leisure and hospitality, which pays below the regional average.  When considering growth within sectors, the regional economy is doing well; but the growth of low paying jobs means that on average, the performance is less impressive. A few points to consider:

Adam Jones

Dr. Adam Jones

Associate Professor of Economics, Cameron School of Business
Regional Economist, Swain Center

Dr. Jones has been with UNCW and the Cameron School of Business since 2010, after obtaining his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Jones worked with the Newton County Chamber of Commerce in Covington, GA. He has published in the Economic Development Quarterly, the Atlantic Economic Journal, and the Journal of Economics and Finance. He plans to continue his local public finance and regional economics research at UNCW with a focus on North Carolina issues and tax-base development.

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Q3 (November) 2017

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