UGA economist expects Augusta economy to outpace state in 2019

UGA economist expects Augusta economy to outpace state in 2019

The economic forecast for Augusta calls for sunny skies in 2019.

The state of Georgia – and the Augusta-Aiken and Gainesville, Ga., metropolitan statistical areas in particular – will outperform the overall U.S. economy this year, according to the forecast delivered Thursday by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

“In 2019, we expect the highest job growth in the state to be right here in your MSA and in Gainesville,” UGA Terry College Dean Benjamin Ayers said. “A very positive economic situation is happening here in Augusta.”

Augusta should see a near 2 percent gain in employment in 2019, compared to the state average of 1.5 percent, which is just shy of 2018′s 1.7 percent gain still above the the nation’s expected rate of 1.3 percent, according to Ayers presentation. The forecast is based on data from the college’s Selig Center for Economic Growth.

Ayers said metro Augusta will get a boost from the $85 billion increase in the nation’s Defense Department budget because Richmond County ranks in the top five Georgia counties for military employment and spending.

The chance of the U.S. going into a recession in 2019 is less than 30 percent, barring an “full-blown” trade war, which would put a serious damper on Georgia’s robust global-trade activity, Ayers said. Georgia is the No. 7 ranked state for imports and No. 11 for exports.

Other growth-restraining developments could include rising interest rates and a tightening of the already-tight labor market; the Selig Center forecasts an average unemployment rate of 3.7 percent.

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