Economist forecasts continued growth for 2020

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

John Connaughton, Barings Professor of Financial Economics in UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business, stated the nation and state’s economic growth will continue in 2020.

“Despite the projected slowing of both the U.S. and North Carolina economies in 2020, the prospect of a recession is still slight,” Connaughton said. “Consumer confidence still remains high, despite the politics in Washington.”

Connaughton forecasts 14 of the state’s 15 economic sectors will experience output increases in 2020. Sectors with the strongest growth include:

  • Agriculture: 8.9 percent
  • Information: 4.1 percent
  • Durable goods: 2.9 percent
  • Business and professional services: 2.4 percent

The Belk College economist presented his quarterly forecast to members of the Charlotte business community and the media at a luncheon held at UNC Charlotte Center City. The event is sponsored by Barings.

For 2019, the state is expected to add 107,700 net jobs, said Connaughton. The two strongest sectors are transportation, warehousing and utilities (6.6 percent) and hospitality and leisure services (5.1 percent).

“With the national unemployment rate consistently below 4 percent, more job openings than job seekers, and lower gasoline prices than last year at this time, consumers have the discretionary income to continue to spend,” he said. “In addition, the Fed has lowered interest rates by 75 basis points since July, making business investment and consumer big-ticket items less costly.”

For 2020, Gross State Product (GSP) is expected to reach $611.2 billion, up from $587 billion in 2019. Real inflation is expected to increase by 2 percent over 2019.

Connaughton, considered one of the top economists in North Carolina, joined the UNC Charlotte faculty in 1978 and has served as director of the quarterly Barings/UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast since 1981.