The economy is growing and adding jobs, but slowly. There are still fewer people employed today in the nation and in North Carolina than before the recession. Most agree faster growth would mean more jobs, but would it also address some of our other economic issues? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains.
“For most of the last 40 years, when we look at the data, North Carolina has actually been a growth leader in the nation. But like the nation in the last couple of years, even after the recession, our growth rate has been much slower than has been over that 40-year period. For example, right now, the broadest measure of our economic growth rate is around 2 percent, and again that is under the 3.5 percent that we averaged since World War II.
“So let’s say we could bump that growth rate up, and let’s say we could bump it up from 2 percent to 3 percent. Now again a lot of people might think it doesn’t seem like much, but if we could do that, I estimate that we could add just under 250,000 more jobs than we would be adding by 2018.
“I also estimate it would cut 3 percentage points off the unemployment rate. And also it would mean that the state general fund — the biggest of the state funds — would have $280 million more dollars to spend each year.
“So the big question of course is how do we bump that growth rate up? That’s a big question, but clearly if we could, it would benefit virtually everyone.”