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Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 3:21pm

Forecast Says GA's Economy Remains Slow Until 2014

An expert says the global slowdown is tempering the growth of Georgia’s economy. In his new prediction, the director of Georgia State University’s Economic Forecasting Center says business won’t step up hiring until 2014.

Georgia's housing market is improving and auto sales are up. But Dr. Rhajeev Dhawan says the market for the state’s manufacturers is hurting because of China’s economic slowdown and tensions in the Middle East. He told a forum of business and political leaders on Wednesday that Georgia lost over 4,000 manufacturing jobs in 2013.

Dhawan says businesses are also worried about America’s budget and debt ceiling. He believes Congress will resolve those issues by the end of this year. He says “That means we might have a palatable budget, and a debt ceiling deal. Which means that corporations can invest and then we can reap the benefits in 2014 more properly.”

Dhawan predicts the state will see an additional 76,000 jobs in 2014 and more than 93,000 new jobs in 2015.

The metro Atlanta area has seen a boom in the housing market and that is helping at least one other part of the state.

The Dalton area was hard hit by the recession. Carpet plants eliminated hundreds of jobs. And the city has struggled to recover. Dalton saw its employment growth dropped more than 3 percent in 2012. Unemployment remains at a state high of 11.2 percent. And in the last 12 months the city lost 400 jobs.

But Dhawan says thanks to the housing boom, the city is finally starting to grow. “So the housing starts have come up quite a bit in the last two years. And so has the demand for carpet. So that’s why you see more announcements for Dalton, trying to build up new plants and add more people. Which is going to show up in the job growth numbers and the multiplier effect.”

Mattex Engineered Floors and Wacker Polymers have announced new facilities in the area that will add more than 2,500 jobs to Dalton in the coming years.

This year, Dhawan is projecting Dalton will see job growth of 0.2 percent. And he expects it to continue to grow by 1.6 percent in 2014.

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