Dr. Michael Walden, William Neal Reynolds Professor and North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics of N.C. State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, provided a comprehensive overview of the national and state economies during the final session of the Summer 2012 NCLGBA Conference on July 27th in Wilmington.
Dr. Walden’s presentation and forecast presented attendees with a chance to learn about key structural issues shaping transformation for business, industry and consumer activity throughout North Carolina and the rest of the country. Walden’s analysis included a better-than-average evaluation of the disparity of the current recovery, with respect to NC and the rest of the country as well as between localities within the state.
Significant portions of Dr. Walden’s presentation were recorded and can be watched in the embed below, or at this page on YouTube.
Dr. Walden forecasts that US GDP will grow between 2.2% and 2.5% for 2012, while national unemployment hovering around 8%. In North Carolina, he anticipated job growth of approximately 60,000 through the end of the current year, with statewide unemployment closing the year near 9.2%.
Walden’s presentation included a conversation on the differences between recent economic fortunes at the state and national levels. Walden attributed some of North Carolina’s more prolonged recession, at least from the perspective of unemployment, on the State’s reliance on manufacturing.
These same explanations were recently chronicled in an online column by the veteran and respected economist. Walden’s piece also provides deeper analysis of some statewide performance metrics tied to employee compensation:
The income per person numbers, generally referred to as “per capita income,” are derived by taking all income received by persons in the state and dividing by the population. Included in the income numbers will be money earned from working and income from pensions and Social Security as well as any funds received from public assistance. Also, the population includes everyone: working adults, retired persons and children.
Therefore, it is incorrect to interpret the per capita income calculation as the average amount a person earns from working. Fortunately, we do have those numbers, and they show a different trend for North Carolina. When we compare the average compensation (which includes earnings plus the value of any benefits like health insurance) per worker in North Carolina to the same measure for the nation, two results are seen.
Walden also maintains the North Carolina State University Index of Leading Economic Indicators (LEI). His most recently analysis through July 2012 suggests continued slowdown in the statewide economy, driven in part to consumer frugality facilitated by their continued deleveraging, an issue he addressed in his presentation to NCLGBA and best described by this slide from his presentation.