RALEIGH – North Carolina’s economy is continuing to improve but the coronavirus and unemployment remain threats to future growth, says North Carolina State University economist Dr. Mike Walden.

In his latest update from the NCSU Index of NC Leading Economic Indicators, Walden says it “edged up” in September that suggests “a continued improving North Carolina economy in the months ahead.”

Yet there are “cautions.”

NCSU graphic

“[T]here are two cautions,” he says.

“First, the resurgence of virus cases adds an element of uncertainty to any economic forecast.

“Second, although new jobless claims continue to fall, they are still well above last year’s levels.

“So while the economy has expanded and jobs have been gained, the virus is still suppressing economic activity.”

Walden notes that the Index rose 0.7% last month.

Breaking it down by category he points out:

  • “The national index, initial jobless claims, and building permits all contributed to the improvement.
  • “New jobless claims continued to drop, but are still significantly elevated from a year ago.
  • “There was some weakness in the manufacturing sector, with both hours and earnings falling.
  • “Still, the Index signals optimism about the state economy in coming months.”

However, Walden in commentary with the Index, stresses the uncertainty created by a resurgence in the coronavirus and challenges related to jobs due to changes triggered by the pandemic such as work-from-home and social distancing,

“[E]ven in the best outcome, we will still be facing major changes in the labor market and the need for massive worker re-training in the months and years ahead as a result of permanent impacts from the virus,” Walden says.