published Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Economists project solid job growth in Georgia

ATLANTA — Economists expect solid job growth in Georgia during the rest of 2014, with help from the housing market and the state's manufacturing and technology industries.

Economic growth may be slightly slower than in 2013, said Rajeev Dhawan, director of the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University. However, he said that prospects for this year have brightened a bit in recent months with a congressional compromise on the federal budget.

Dhawan issued the center's quarterly outlook on Wednesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

A surge of technology jobs means a higher proportion of new positions will pay well, he said.

Dhawan also predicted that Georgia's unemployment rate — now at 7.4 percent — will continue to drop, averaging 6.7 percent this year and 6 percent in two year.

However, even if the federal budget truce holds, there are other dangers to both national and regional growth, he said:

Among them:

• Corporate America may stay skittish on investing in new equipment and personnel.

• China's economy may finally stall, as some indicators seem to warn. Any slowdown in Asian exports could badly damage trade-dependent Savannah, as well as the international and logistical sectors in Atlanta.

• The Federal Reserve could botch its handling of interest rates, tanking the stock market or chilling the housing market.

Dorsey Farr, former Federal Reserve economist and now a principal in the investment firm of French Wolf & Farr, said he also sees the economy headed in the right direction, though at a frustratingly slow pace.

"It keeps things moving, but it is not strong enough to get excited about," he said.

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