Bruce Yandle was the guest speaker Thursday for the Greater North Augusta Chamber of Commerce’s Business Power Luncheon held at the North Augusta Municipal Center.
While the harsh winter conditions during the first quarter did hurt the area, the economic forecast is already looking up for the year both locally and nationally, Yandle said.
A 2.4 to 3.2 percent increase in the nation’s real GDP is expected through 2017, although the possibility of another recession looms around 2018, he said.
One of the keys to the economic upswing will be increasing education levels of the workforce, particularly young professionals.
Nationally, those without a high school diploma have an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent whereas those with a bachelor’s degree or higher only have a 3.4 percent unemployment rate, he said.
The Augusta area falls within an economic area known as “Char-Lanta” – an area from Charlotte to Atlanta. The percentage of workers within specific employment sectors closely resembles that of the nation, Yandle said.