North Carolina's economy appears to back on the move, according to a recently released study performed by the Wells Fargo Economics Group. Labor market conditions are improving, with job growth outpacing the nation and home sales finally recovering from a period of dormancy.
The study found that the unemployment rate fell in North Carolina 2.2 percent over the past year, settling to 6.4 percent in February. The unemployment rate is .3 percent below the national average.
Boosts in employment are largely centered in three main metros: Charlotte, Raleigh, and Durham. A majority of the state's fastest growing industries are in these metros, which account for 69.8 percent of all jobs. Total employment share for the three metros edged up to 42.3 percent.
All major industry groups posted year-over-year employment gains on a three-month moving average basis, which are helping to fuel the state's economic growth. Most notably, construction gains are finally making a contribution. Single-family home permits have risen 13.5 percent over the past year, and are up just 47.5 percent from post-recession lows.
Sales of existing homes increased 20.4 percent in 2013, with home prices increasing 8.0 percent year-over-year at a slightly slower clip than the national average. However, home prices in North Carolina are 5.2 percent away from pre-recession levels, significantly closer than the national difference of 16.9 percent.
The group opined, "Relatively low home prices are one of North Carolina's key selling points and are one of the reasons so many businesses and households relocate to the state."
"North Carolina's economy should gain further momentum in 2014. Overall job growth should easily top this past year’s 1.8 percent gain, which produced 73,100 new jobs," the group said.