The head of Georgia State University's Economic Forecasting Center says Augusta will continue to gain jobs for the rest of the year and then begin a slow decline in 2009.
Last year, Georgia State's economist Rajeev Dhawan predicted Augusta would have a slow-growing economy but would not stall because of the national economic turmoil.
Augusta's employment grew 0.4 percent over the spring months, which represents 950 jobs. That rate is slower than the 1.1 percent seen in 2007.
Mr. Dhawan released his national and state economic forecast Wednesday, saying Georgia's job picture continues to look bleak despite gains in education, health care and government jobs. The problem stems from the housing downturn, which has had a negative ripple effect throughout the state.
Mr. Dhawan said most metropolitan areas in Georgia will exhibit slower employment growth in 2008, with Albany, Columbus, Dalton and Macon seeing job losses. Augusta's meager job growth came mainly from an increase in professionals, health care and retail workers, he said.
"Given that our forecast for the national and local economy is bleak and Augusta has started to show moderation in its quarter-over-quarter employment growth, we forecast a slower 0.3 percent growth for 2008, consistent with a statewide slowdown," Mr. Dhawan wrote.
Manufacturing and construction lead the way in local job losses, about 760 jobs this spring, he explained.
"For 2009, we forecast a 0.2 percent decline in annual employment level," Mr. Dhawan said.
The economist does not have good news for the state, expecting the job losses to add up to 35,300 by the end of the year.
"In 2009, we'll see the decline slow to 2,600 losses before the recovery strengthens in 2010, where we can expect to see 61,700 new jobs."
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According to Georgia State University's Economic Forecasting Center:
- For calendar year 2008, the state will lose 35,300 jobs. In 2009, 13,900 job losses are expected in the first half of the year, followed by 11,300 job gains in the second half.
- The job market recovery will strengthen in 2010, when 61,700 jobs will be created.
- Most metro areas in Georgia will exhibit slower employment growth in 2008. Albany, Columbus, Dalton and Macon will see job losses.
- Atlanta's total housing permits will plummet by posting a 52.1 percent drop in 2008. Permit activity will again decrease in 2009, but at a slower rate of 5 percent. It will inch up in 2010, posting an 18.4 percent increase.