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WNC’s Economic Growth Continues

BOONE—The economy continues to grow in Western North Carolina, up 0.4 percent in April, according to the Western North Carolina Economic Index and Report compiled at Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business. Positive trends in employment growth and double-digit declines in claims for unemployment insurance bumped the index to 108.7.

The index, which tracks economic activity in 25 western counties, has increased at an annual rate of 4.5 percent since the beginning of the year.

” The regional economy continues to grow at a good pace,” said economics professor Todd Cherry, a co-author of the report. “The consistent growth recorded during the past 11 months indicates the fundamentals for the region are strong and we may see continued growth for the region, absent any unforeseen shocks.”

The index shows jobs were created during April, although not at the level of employment growth that was recorded in March. Regional seasonally adjusted employment for the region and state increased 0.2 percent. Employment in the Asheville metro area grew 1.1 percent, while employment fell 0.1 percent in the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area.

Twelve of the 25 counties in the region posted job gains in April, with the greatest gains occurring in Buncombe and Madison counties. Swain County recorded the largest job losses.

Unemployment rates fell in 19 of the 25 counties, continuing a trend occurring across the region. Twenty-four of the 25 counties had lower unemployment in April than 12 months ago. The seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment for the region fell slightly to 5.2 percent, while the state unemployment rate increased to 5.3 percent.

Seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance, a leading indicator of unemployment, decreased 36.5 percent across the region. In the metro areas, initial claims decreased 20.0 percent in Asheville and declined 39.7 percent in Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir. “The significant decline in initial claims across the region indicates that unemployment may fall further,” Cherry said.

The WNC Economic Index and Report provides a monthly account of economic conditions for Western North Carolina. It typically is released the fifth week following each month. For more information, visit www.business.appstate.edu/wncindex.asp.

The WNC Economic Index and Report is a cooperative effort by AdvantageWest-North Carolina, and Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business and Appalachian Regional Development Institute.

Cherry is assisted by co-authors John Dawson of the Walker College of Business and College of Arts and Sciences professor Rich Crepeau.

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