This is the City Talk column by longtime Savannah Morning News contributor Bill Dawers.
A few months ago I suggested that the U.S. may already be in recession, but despite high inflation, high stock market volatility and soaring interest rates, the economy is proved to be more resilient than I expected.
Private consumption actually increased in October. Employment is a lagging indicator of economic conditions, but if the recession was already underway, the October data should show signs of softening.
However, the United States continues to add jobs, and Georgia’s employment situation is particularly strong. In the Savannah metropolitan area (Chatham, Effingham and Bryan counties), first unemployment claims fell significantly in October compared to the same period last year, but employment increased by almost 5%.
Increases in the local job market are widespread across the private sector, including significant increases in construction, transportation, warehousing, information and hospitality.
While some analysts are now projecting a slowdown in 2023 and possibly a slowdown in the first quarter, the local economy is in a strong position to weather a relatively mild recession.
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need for growth
The biggest wild card in the Savannah area could turn out to be home sales and new home construction.
On the other hand, continued population growth will continue to create a need for more units, no matter what happens to the national economy.
Beyond the strong growth of recent years, we will see even more rapid growth in the Savannah metropolitan area and many other counties as we approach the opening of new Hyundai plants in 2025. As construction intensifies, let’s wait for further announcements of related companies expanding or relocating to the area. vapor.
On the other hand, the country has seen a decline in new home sales, single-family home construction and residential investment. Despite increased demand from population growth and a robust job market, developers in the Savannah area will face uncertainty regarding price trends, mortgage rates and consumer demand.
Chatham County developers and prospective home buyers face even more uncertainty due to a lack of leadership. The current impasse over the future distribution of local option sales tax (LOST) revenues has heightened the ugly prospect that the tax will fully expire early in the year, potentially resulting in higher property taxes for tens of thousands of households. There is a nature.
Given the location of the new Hyundai plant in Bryan County on Interstate 16, employees have viable options to live in several different counties, and developers across the region are actively seeking make a plan. A bureaucracy without surprises in terms of predictable taxes for both home builders and future residents.
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Contrast Chatham County’s current dysfunction with the methodical approach to ongoing planning in Block County, just east of the Bryan County megasite.
Of course, the local economy will benefit wherever Hyundai’s future employees decide to live, and West Chatham’s population growth will continue despite shaky leadership and unpredictable tax policies. wax.
But it is clear that the region, especially Savannah and Chatham counties, will be stronger against future economic headwinds if their leaders work together more effectively.
Bill Dawers can be reached on Twitter at @billdawers and CityTalkSavannah@gmail.com.