The recession hit North Carolina hard, and the recovery has been modest. But, as N.C. State University economist Mike Walden points out, there are bright spots on the economic horizon.
“I think there are some positives …, and I think they revolve around four things: First of all, a revival of manufacturing. Our state is still more of a manufacturing state than the rest of the country. Manufacturing was really hit hard during the recession. It’s had a slow comeback. But I think that comeback will pick up as households and their finances and businesses are more optimistic and they start buying durable goods again.
“Second factor, I think, is going to be a surge in construction. Now, building and construction and home sales plunged in North Carolina, yet over the last five years we’ve added population at twice the rate as the nation. I think we have a backlog of building needs. I think that’s going to be a big push to the economy.
“Third factor: something I call the education bumper crop. We all know that the knowledge economy needs educated workers, and North Carolina’s been adding college graduates at twice the rate as the nation, particularly in metro areas. That’s going to be a big, attractive factor, I think, to the state.
“And then lastly, I think we’re going to have an influx of retirees. North Carolina’s always been a magnet for retirees. That slowed down during the recession. Retirees were having trouble selling their homes. Now the home market has improved. I think we’re going to have a big influx again of retirees.
“All of these factors, I think, will cause our economy in the state to add over 400,000 jobs in the next five years.”