“We could be poised for a takeoff in growth,” said Rajeev Dhawan, the director of the school’s Economic Forecasting Center.
In Augusta, the outlook includes job growth to finish this year at 1.4 percent but rises to 1.6 percent next year.
“Augusta also may see 1,500 new soldiers at Fort Gordon in an effort by the Army to consolidate cyberspace training. Multifamily housing demand shows no signs of slowing, as a new mixed-use project featuring 300 apartments begins construction in early 2014,” he said.
Georgia’s employment growth rate in August was better than the nation’s, and the center’s forecast calls for the state to create 85,000 jobs this year, compared with 63,000 in 2012. Next year, job creation will top 78,000, but an increasing share of them will be higher-paying.
“The quality of the jobs gained, as measured by personal income or wage growth, has been less than stellar,” Dhawan said.
Georgia’s unemployment rate will wind up averaging 8.5 percent this year, but decline to 8.2 next year and fall to 7.3 the following 12 months.
Sectors such as professional-and-business services, transportation and hospitality have regained all the jobs they shed during the Great Recession. Education and health care have been adding while the other sectors were shrinking, but some are still trying to recover; namely, manufacturing, finance, information, wholesale and retail trade, along with both state and local government.
Local governments – including school boards – are the latest sector to feel the crush of the recession because of declines in property values. Many governments have nearly depleted reserves. But the forecast predicts a new wave of investment is helping property values and the construction industry to boot.
Overall, the state and national economies could launch skyward if some hurdles arise. For instance, another federal budget standoff that results in a new government shutdown would dampen consumer and corporate confidence, Dhawan warned. In addition, what he calls “global malaise” has the potential to depress exports which would weaken U.S. manufacturing, business investment and job creation.
Nevertheless, he is optimistic about 2015, calling for gross domestic product to ratchet up to 3 percent after next year’s 2 percent repeat of this year.
“A new Congress will be a factor in that change, ushering in the possibility of less partisanship and bickering,” he said. “Such a shift will free investment to take off and, in turn, produce good job and income growth in 2015.”