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AASU: Economy rebounding, expected to grow
Center for Regional Analysis sees a bright first half of 2014
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Armstrong Atlantic State University’s latest Coastal Empire Economic Monitor reports the Savannah-area economy expanded significantly during the third quarter of 2013 and should continue to experience growth in the first half of 2014.

The third quarter Economic Monitor, which analyzes data and identifies trends affecting the regional economy, reports the Coastal Empire leading economic index increased for the seventh consecutive quarter, with regional housing and labor markets experiencing considerable improvement.

A major uptick in consumer confidence — along with key gains in retail sales, tourism and port activity — also supported the regional economy. The acceleration of growth in the leading index indicates continued economic expansion through mid-2014.

“The underlying fundamentals of the economy have improved during the third quarter of 2013,” said Michael Toma, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics and the director of Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis. “There have been broadly based gains in tourism, port activity, retail sales and the housing market. Looking ahead, we expect to see accelerated growth for the first six months of 2014.”

Highlights from the latest Economic Monitor include:
• The Coastal Empire coincident economic index increased by half of a percent, rising to 158.9 and representing 2 percent annual growth.
• Tourism surged in the third quarter, with hotel room sales increasing by 7.4 percent from the previous quarter and by 11 percent from one year ago.
• The Coastal Empire leading economic index surged 1.5 percent, rising to 129.5 from 127.6 (revised) in the previous quarter.        
• In the labor market, seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance plummeted 23 percent to 964 claims per month.
• The seasonally adjusted number of new residential homes permitted for construction was 334, marking a 22 percent increase from the second quarter of the year.

The Coastal Empire Economic Monitor presents quarterly economic trends and short-term economic forecasts for Savannah’s Metropolitan Statistical Area. 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.