UNCW Senior Economics Professor Doctor Woody Hall held an economics forum today. He said that our regions economy is doing better than the rest of the state and the country, but that we could be doing a lot better. He predicts growth will continue in the area but at a slower rate due to gas prices, a rise in unemployment and a slow down in retail sales. Since 2002, Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties economy has grown on average of about six percent. Back in 2004, our area saw its largest grown spurt at 9.6 percent. Shift forward three years and the rate is at 3 percent. "I'm not really excited about what's happening. We were a much more exciting place to live in three or four years ago than we are right now," said Hall. Hall also predicts that housing sales and purchases will hit an all-time low by the end of the year. Hall believes the housing market will improve once it reaches it's lowest point, which he predicts will be late this year or early next year. The good news is that overall employment is rising -- just at a slower rate. Brunswick County has the highest unemployment rate compared to New Hanover County and Pender County. Brunswick County's unemployment rate is slightly higher than North Carolina's average, but better than in years before. Compared to other parts of the state, southeastern North Carolina is moving forward, just a little slower. Hall said Wilmington's international airport continues to see a lot of growth in passengers as well.
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