Thursday, October 3, 2013

Charlotte economy to outperform U.S.; statewide outlook more uncertain

Charlotte's economy will keep its "solid pace of growth" through next year, outperforming the country as a whole -- but the statewide outlook is a little more uncertain, according to two economic reports from banks released Thursday.

Office jobs are still providing most of the growth in Charlotte's labor market -- both in employment and wages, a new report from PNC Bank economists says. But other sectors, particularly manufacturing, continue to lag. The finance industry is still "a weak spot" and years away from making back the losses from the financial crisis.

Housing prices in the city should accelerate through the end of the year, PNC writes, and continued population growth will drive construction, retail and health care.

Statewide, signs of life in housing and manufacturing activity show the economy could be on the mend, a report from Wells Fargo economists says. But there still seems to be a "disconnect" between what the labor market demands and what skills workers have, the bank economists write. As a whole, the North Carolina market is still highly cyclical and dependent on the national economy.

"The state’s economy appears to have the momentum needed to perpetuate growth," the Wells economists write, but the state needs to focus on workforce development to make sure it happens.

The Wells economists also take a stab at the burning political question: What is the state's business climate? They write that the lower taxes in the McCrory administration put the state more in line with its neighbors, but say subsidies and tax incentives still pose a problem and say worries about political instability can mess with business owners' long-term planning.