Triangle economic forecast cloudy

January 7, 2009 3:42:56 PM PST
Raleigh economic leaders tried to stare into their crystal balls Wednesday and the forecast was anything but certain.The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce hosted an Economic Outlook Breakfast and invited business leaders to talk about what they think the future holds for the area. Some 600 people attended.

Dr. John Silvia, Chief Economist with Wachovia Bank, told the group that this is the worst recession since 1980.

"There's no surprise we are in the teeth of this recession," he said. "We've lost about 2.4 million jobs for the year, which makes that the biggest job loss in a single year since 1945."

But while the national picture is grim, Silvia says here in the Triangle there is hope. Raleigh's average per capita income sits at $37,000. That's higher than the state and national averages, and it will likely mean continued growth and success for the city.

"Younger people, fairly educated, move to this state looking for opportunities, and that is the underlying demographic that makes our situation far superior," Silvia offered.

The advantage of growth means people need a place to live and spend money. But it's a double edged sword. When the economy dips all the extra people who've come in - and then lose their jobs - exacerbates the state's unemployment rate.

Additional layoffs are predicted in the coming months, and that has many business owners holding steady - preferring to wait and see what happens instead of hiring or expanding.

"We haven't let anybody go, so we are trying to do whatever it takes to keep our core team in place," said Jeff Rogers with Career Foundations. "We don't plan on letting anybody go, but at the same token we don't plan on hiring either."

While businesses are trying to hold the line, financial experts say those with money would do well to invest in 401ks and stocks. They're calling it a buyer's market because everything is so cheap and when the economy rebounds investors will get the biggest payout.


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