At today’s Economic Outlook conference, UNCW Regional Economist Dr. Adam Jones said that the region has settled into a more normal growth pattern and is expected to outperform both the state and nation. Economic growth in 2016 came in at 3.2% and should average 3% this year in the Cape Fear region.
Tourism growth is still strong in the area as well. Unemployment is at 4.3% (considered full employment) and wages began to rise in 2014 with the tightening of the labor market.
Economic growth nationally is 2.2% and has been impacted by recent hurricanes. Positive signs nationally include an increase in orders for capital goods and inflation below 2%. The weakening dollar has led to an increase in exports. Wage growth nationally is still slow, averaging 1%. Business fixed investment has increased and the S&P has seen a 9-10% increase in the first two quarters of 2017. Banks have strong capital reserves, so have money to lend. Small to mid-size business sentiment, which has been flat-lined for a decade, has finally turned around, as smaller businesses are more positive about growth potential and hiring new workers.