Outlook for recovery in 2011 – Charlotte

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The pace of recovery across the stte is likely top vary depending on the makeup of the local economy. The Charlotte region, which has historically weathered recessions well, was hurt badly this time around by declines in financial services and manufacturing, reports the News and Observer.

That helps explain why the region’s unemployment rate, 11 percent in October, was a full 3 percentage points higher than the Triangle’s. Financial services and manufacturing each account for about 10 percent of the region’s employment base.

“We’re losing jobs in manufacturing and construction, and for the most part they’re not coming back,” said John Connaughton, an economist at UNC Charlotte.

In financial services, the total number of jobs lost hasn’t been nearly as severe as many people feared when Wells Fargo announced it was acquiring Charlotte-based Wachovia. Total jobs in the financial sector declined from 77,000 before the recession to about 69,000 today. “The real kicker is the quality of the jobs we’ve lost,” Connaughton said.

Losing a corporate headquarters has meant fewer high-paying executive and trading jobs. Those high salaries helped drive consumer spending, which in turn boosted employment in the service sector. The Charlotte region is getting a large percentage of the few jobs that are being created. Of the 15,000 new jobs the state has created over the last year, 6,000 have been in the Charlotte area.

Charlotte is making a concerted effort to turn itself into a hub for energy-related companies. It’s also recently been awarded several corporate expansions. BAE Systems, a British defense and aerospace company, said this month that it would open a center to handle back-office services in Charlotte and create 176 jobs.

Industrial manufacturer SPX Corp. is expanding its Ballantyne headquarters and adding 180 high-paying jobs. The company says its new jobs will pay an average wage of almost $83,000 a year.

As in most other areas of the country, Connaughton said, the problem in Charlotte is that the pace of job creation isn’t fast enough to make a dent in the losses that have already occurred. Read more.

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