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Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 2:39pm

Georgia's Economic Growth Set To Outpace The Nation's In 2014

The weather may be chilly in Georgia right now, but the state’s economic forecast is heating up.

Even though the state is still climbing out of the recession of 2008, it looks like it’s going to be a good year for the economy. That’s the message given to a room full of business leaders in Middle Georgia on Thursday.

One of the economic forecasters delivering that news is Charles Knapp, interim Dean of the Terry College of Business and former president of UGA. He says the state GDP will grow at 3 percent, single family home starts will rise by 36 percent, and the state will gain over 4-thousand new manufacturing jobs. But in order to continue the warming trend, he says, the state will have to make marked improvement in K-12 education. "A lot of the jobs, good jobs, high paid jobs with benefits, are going to require very high levels of skill. And we’ve got to make sure we’ve got those skilled people in Georgia." Knapp says that will be critical in terms of improving Georgia’s competitiveness, which ultimately determines standard of living.

Mercer University economist Roger Tutterow says Middle Georgia is faring well in 2014. "Certainly in Macon we’re seeing gains in professional and business services. In terms of the retail sector which continues to grow particularly toward the northern part of the city, and then down here in Warner Robins where so much of the economy is tied to the military base we probably have not had as much growth as we normally would have in terms of payrolls, but it still remains fundamentally a healthy economy."

Tutterow says Macon’s employment will rise by about 800 jobs this year. Statewide, he predicts the fastest job growth will occur in construction.

While Georgia will outpace the U.S. economy in 2014, the nation will also see improvement, with a 2.3 percent growth of GDP (up from 1.6 percent last year).