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Experts say local economy recovering, but slowly

READ MORE: Experts say local economy recovering, but slowly

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- From here at home to around the world, the economy is the biggest concern for just about all of us.

The economy in Wilmington and southeastern North Carolina has tended to fare better than the nation in past downturns. Today experts met at UNCW to discuss whether than trend will continue.

"We probably have bottomed out in terms of overall economic activity," UNCW Senior Economist Dr. Woody Hall said. "In terms of any further declines, we don't anticipate that they will exist."

But that doesn't exactly mean that our area's economy is growing. Hall says it took us a long time to get where we are and it will take just as long to get out.

Hall says the real estate market in southeastern North Carolina has stabilized and says at the earliest, it will take one to two years to see an upturn.

"I think everybody is comfortable that the prices are near bottom, have hit close to a bottom," Intracoastal Realty broker Debbie Mitchell said. "It's a good time to buy, it's a good time to make investment in real estate, so I can't promise that things are going to sky rocket."

Mitchell says not as many people are listing their homes, which means a decline in inventory and home prices.

Hall says retail sales are also a big indicator of economic growth, and though sales have gone up, it's not all it's cracked up to be.

"We don't see a net increase in retail sales," Hall said. "The growth has been a recovery from the depressed level of retail sales, so that's coming back."

He says though the future does not look super bright, it looks a whole lot better than the past.

"We're better than we were this time last year. We're better than we were this time two years ago, but we're not back to where we were in 2005 and 2006, and I don't think in my lifetime that we will see the growths that existed in '05 and '06 again," he said.

Dr. Hall says he believes our area's economic growth will mirror the growth of the country as a whole.

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