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Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 9:53am

Georgia Economy's Long, Slow Climb

New snapshots of Georgia economic data show slow growth and economic recovery.

Intuit Payroll’s March measure of small-business employment shows an increase of nearly half a percent in Georgia – about the same growth as each month so far this year.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing index compiled by Kennesaw State University fell slightly in March after two blockbuster months of growth, though Econometric Center Director Don Sabbarese said it still reflects an improving industry because new orders and production both remain strong.

Sabbarese said all Georgia’s economic trends are moving in the right direction, albeit slowly.

“The level of growth is definitely in the right direction. Probably it’s not as strong as we would like it to be to really begin to take a lot more people off the unemployment rolls,” he said. “There’s no doubt the manufacturing sector is one of those sectors that have been growing. We just need more of it.”

Georgia added 15,000 jobs in February and about a thousand of those were in manufacturing. The state’s unemployment also inched down to 9.1 percent.

This all points to a plodding, weak recovery, said Jeff Humphreys, director of economic forecasting at the University of Georgia.

“If the economy was roaring ahead, we wouldn’t have mixed signals, we would have everything positive and very positive. If the economy was headed into the ditch, so to speak, we would have a lot of really negative news coming in,” he said. “What we’re getting are indicators of weak growth or flat growth.”

Humphreys expects Georgia’s economy to grow less than 2 percent this year – weak, but still forward progress.