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State’s Economy is Improving, Economists Say

BOONE–Economists in Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business are optimistic that the state’s economy is improving.

“The economy is going much better than many of us think, and it will grow fast enough to lower the unemployment rate, which is the key,” Dr. Harry Davis says on the university’s cable television program “Appalachian Perspective.”

In his economic forecast, Davis says, “The economy grew rapidly in the third quarter and I think it will grow rapidly in the fourth. The unemployment rate will continue to go down, both in state and at the federal level. Interest rates are still at a 45-year low. The manufacturing sector, I think, has bottomed out and profitability is returning.”

Davis, who serves as economist for the N.C. Bankers Association, appears on “Appalachian Perspective” with Dr. Todd Cherry, who compiles a monthly Western North Carolina Economic Index and Report.

While North Carolina has lost more than 140,000 jobs in manufacturing in the past three years due to overseas competition, Cherry and Davis say other industries are growing, including health care, pharmaceuticals, defense, security and technology.

An important strategy for employees, they say, is to cultivate skills that are transferable to various jobs. “The economy is always changing, always transitioning, and in that transition, people will go through rough times. In these times, people should reinvest in their skills and abilities through education,” Cherry says.

As greater demands are placed on community colleges and universities to retrain and educate North Carolinians, state government should make appropriate funds available, he said.

To help prevent the rapid economic declines that have devastated some North Carolina factory towns, Cherry says policymakers should work to diversify their local economy. “You should diversify a community’s economy like you would a financial portfolio. That way, if there’s a shock in the market or a structural shift, you’re protected somewhat.”

“Appalachian Perspective” is a 30-minute program hosted by Chancellor Harvey Durham. It airs in Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Newport, Kannapolis, Hickory, Morganton and Boone.

“Appalachian Perspective” can be seen in Watauga County on three cable channels: Charter Communications’ Channel 2 at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; MTN’s Channel 18 at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; and the university’s Channel 21 each weekday at 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The episode titled “North Carolina’s Economy” airs through December. For more information, contact Producer Linda Coutant at (828) 262-2342.