Economist predicts better days ahead for North Carolina


A local economist sees better days ahead. However, people who are still struggling to find work, especially in rural counties, say those days better come fast.

Either ironically, or fittingly, on this Labor Day, the employment office in Rocky Mount was unusually quiet.

"It's a tough world out there right now as far as people being unemployed," said Richard White, who is unemployed.

White says he's been looking for work for the past month. For others, it's been much longer.

But one economist in Raleigh says things may soon start looking up.

"We're past the worst," said N.C. State economist Mike Walden.

Walden sees the next four to six months being as strong as any since 2008 for two reasons -- a  rebounding housing market, and an influx of retirees.

"Retirees bring their pensions. They bring social security," said Walden. "They also don't have children to educate. So, communities often love them because of that."

Walden says in many cases, retirees will go where the cost of living is lower. That's welcome news to the owners of a Rocky Mount business geared toward artists, and people with a little extra income and a little extra time.

"We put on our Facebook page the Bel Air Artisan Center just a few days ago how North Carolina, the whole actually could be a magnet for retirees," said Hillary Vetere, of the Bel Air Artisans.

Those looking for a steady paycheck, however, will need much more than that especially in rural counties where unemployment can be in the double digits.

"It's time for somebody to do something," said White. "Look out for us. I mean I can't go out there and make somebody hire me. I can't do that. It's tough right now. I just go out there, keep plugging along and hope for the best.  That's all I can do.

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