ONLINE UPDATE: Economist predicts slow 2014 growth rate

by Kelly Corbett
Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dr. Woody Hall, senior economist and professor of economics, revealed predictions on Thursday, Oct. 10, for a 2.5 percent economic growth rate in 2014, meaning the unemployment rate would not stabilize.

Business owners, Realtors, community leaders and researchers heard the numbers during the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s annual OUTLOOK conference.

Presented by the Swain Center for Business and Economic Services, economists compared current and future economic numbers to times surrounding the economic downturn of 2009.

 “I’m a little worried about this one,” Hall said before beginning his presentation.

To keep the unemployment rate stable, output growth must reach at least 3 percent, Hall said. But the unemployment rate has been declining since the third-quarter of 2012.

July 2013 unemployment data shows seasonally adjusted rates at 8.7 percent in New Hanover County, above the United States unemployment rate of 7.4 percent but slightly lower than the 8.9 percent North Carolina unemployment rate.

Since 2008, there have been decreases in manufacturing, retail trade, educational services among other jobs. But Hall noted that construction has taken the biggest hit with a 39.6 percent decrease.

With a conference focus on contract research organizations, Wilmington City Council member Laura Padgett read a proclamation signed by Mayor Bill Saffo declaring this week Clinical Research Week in Wilmington.

Through research services, contract research organizations (CROs) support biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

More than 20 contract research organizations are located in Wilmington, with four headquartered locally.

Speakers Dr. Tom Simpson with the Cameron School of Business, CEO Pat Walsh of AAIPharma and CEO David Simmons of PPD could not attend the conference in person, but spoke to the audience through videos.

“The CRO industry in Wilmington is an interesting model,” Walsh said during his video. “… We’re heavily investing in the Wilmington area with jobs and infrastructure.”

Compared to San Diego, Calif., Boston and other active pharmaceutical locations, the people network is strong, but the business network is not quite as strong in the Wilmington area, Walsh added.

More information and the economic outlook presentation is available on the Cameron School of Business website at

Full story will be printed on Thursday, Oct. 17.


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