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Monday, November 28, 2011 - 11:31am

Tourism, Retail Boost Savannah Economy

A third quarter economic report says, continued growth in tourism and consumer spending are boosting Savannah's economy.

The data also suggests there's no easy way up for sluggish growth.

Armstrong Atlantic State University's Center for Regional Analysis looks at economic data and puts out quarterly forecasts.

Numbers through September show modest growth for a seventh consecutive quarter.

Center director Michael Toma says, hotel stays and retail receipts are encouraging.

"The data that we have on retail sales activity here suggests that consumers may be more confident in Savannah than they are in other areas of the South Atlantic states," Toma says. "Our numbers are up on retail sales activity even though it appears that consumer confidence is down in the bigger regional area."

However, employment, electricity use, airport boardings, port activity and consumer confidence all fell from last quarter.

"There's some underlying weakness in the data that appears to be building," Toma says. "The fact that there were declines in five of those other areas is a little bit concerning."

The area lost 400 seasonally-adjusted jobs in three months.

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