Economist: Triangle could take 40 percent of new N.C. jobs

Region could take up to 40 percentof them, he says

akenney@newsobserver.comJanuary 7, 2013 

ANDREW KENNEY - AKENNEY@NEWSOBSERVER.COM

— Economists around the state are offering less-than-rosy projections for 2013, but N.C. State University economist Mike Walden offered the Cary Chamber of Commerce some reasons for confidence.

The professor predicted more jobs and consumer spending, especially in the Triangle and Charlotte.

Jobs magnet: Walden predicts the Research Triangle will take between 33 percent and 40 percent of all new jobs in North Carolina this year.

The region only has about a fifth of the state’s population, but the disproportionate jobs growth is feasible, considering the growth in biopharmaceuticals for towns like Cary and Holly Springs. Raleigh-Cary has regained about 85 percent of the jobs it lost in the recession, compared to about 44 percent statewide.

Housing restarts: With housing values flat or appreciating here for all of 2012, Walden thinks the housing market has “bottomed out.”

But he warned of an emerging theory that homeowners have been waiting for years to sell, and that they’ll unleash a wave of “shadow inventory” that will sink prices and demand just as they’re coming back.

Extra cash: With stocks and other financial assets recovering, and average household debt approaching 20-year-lows, locals will be more willing to shell out for food, electronics and household decor, boosting the commerce sector and the economy as a whole in 2012, he predicted.

Lingering doubts: Among other economists, the forecast is mixed, especially when the focus is all of North Carolina rather than its fast-growing hubs.

Kenney: 919-460-2608

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