NC economy to grow in 2014, UNC Charlotte economist predicts

Despite sluggish job growth in recent months, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is expected to keep falling throughout 2014 to below 6 percent, UNC Charlotte economist John Connaughton said Tuesday.

In releasing his latest quarterly forecast for the state’s economy, Connaughton said North Carolina is expected to have continued economic growth this year, thanks in part to rising home prices and low interest rates. The state’s 15 sectors are projected to post a rise in economic output, he said.

“This is really sort of the first year since the recovery began that all of our sectors are going to show growth,” he said. “2014 has the potential to be a really good year.”

Not all sectors are expected to have job growth this year. Mining will have a net loss in jobs, while employment in the government sector will be flat, according to Connaughton.

The state is projected to have a net increase of 60,000 jobs this year as certain sectors, such as construction, see strong employment gains, he said. The figure is lower than 2013’s gain by about 4,500 jobs.

According to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Department of Labor, North Carolina had a 6.9 percent unemployment rate in December, higher than the U.S. rate of 6.7 percent. Connaughton said he expects the rate to fall below 6 percent by December of this year

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