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AASU economist sees steady growth for region
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Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Center for Regional Analysis reports a steady improvement in the economy for the second quarter of 2012, according to the Coastal Empire Economic Monitor.

The first Economic Monitor of the year sounded a note of cautious optimism, which proved auspicious for the second quarter as those early gains were extended. The second quarter growth for 2012 is the healthiest two-quarter pace since late 2009.

Nearly all of the economic indicators were up in the second quarter with the exception of employment and help-wanted advertising. However, employment generally tends to follow behind other market strengths, and the lag therefore is not of significant concern.

“Second quarter growth was healthy with a broadening base of strength in the region’s economic foundation sectors,” said Michael Toma, director of the Center for Regional Analysis. “The outlook ahead looks promising, but continued cautious optimism is merited until uncertainty about the national economic climate begins to clear.”

Noteworthy findings in the second quarter Economic Monitor include:

The Coastal Empire coincident index increased eight-tenths of one percent to 152.6 from 151.4 (revised), representing an annualized growth rate of 3.1 percent.

Improved consumer confidence and electricity sales provided the most lift to the index. Tourism and port activity were also factors in the increase.

The period saw a loss of 200 jobs to 150,700 workers in education and health services, but seasonally adjusted employment held steady across many business sectors and government employers.

Job gains were seen in manufacturing.

Gains in the leading economic index were driven by higher consumer expectations, improved housing marketing indicators and a reduction in new unemployment insurance claims.

June saw the lowest number of new unemployment insurance claims in four years, dropping below 1,000 to 968. The number of newly unemployed workers is trending downward, which bodes well for the second half of 2012.

Overall, the coincident index and forecasting indexes were up during the second quarter, in large part because the support for the indicators comes from important sectors of the regional economy. It is expected that the improvements will continue with increasing momentum through the end of the year and into 2013.

The Coastal Empire Economic Monitor presents quarterly economic trends and short-term economic forecasts for Savannah’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The quarterly report measures the heartbeat of the local economy, based on the analysis of economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the City of Savannah, Georgia Power and the three counties in the MSA—Chatham, Bryan and Effingham. The report presents a short-term forecast of the region’s economic activity in the next six to nine months and is available free by electronic mail. To subscribe, email

 Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis, housed in the university’s economics department, meets the applied research needs of Savannah’s business and community organizations. Areas of concentrated research include regional economic forecasting, economic impact analysis, economic development and business expansion, tourism development, survey-based research and specialty reports on topics of state, regional and local interest.