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Economist paints positive economic picture for North Carolina in 2016

Media Contact: Dr. Mike Walden, William Neal Reynolds professor and North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist, North Carolina State University, 919-515-4671 or

One of the state’s leading economists paints an upbeat picture for North Carolina in 2016. In his latest quarterly outlook report, released this week, NC State University’s Mike Walden predicts that the state’s economy will continue to outperform the nation, generating more income and more jobs.

Walden expects the state’s gross domestic product to rise 3.5 percent faster than the national rate. Meanwhile, the state’s unemployment rate will fall from 5.5 percent in 2015 to 5.1 percent by the end of 2016, as the state adds a net 90,000 new jobs.

Walden says he doesn’t expect job growth to be evenly spread among sectors and salaries: He sees North Carolina’s fastest job growth taking place in the higher-paying financial, information and professional and business sectors and in the lower-paying leisure, hospitality and personal service sectors.

While all signs point to no recession in 2016, Walden mentions two economic trends that could be negatives for consumers: While remaining affordable, oil and gasoline prices will likely stop falling and perhaps rise a little. And, if the economy continues to perform according to the Federal Reserve’s expectations, interest rates may rise to 1 percent by year’s end.

For Walden’s detailed summary of the state and national economic performance in 2015, and his predictions for 2016, see

— Dee Shore, 919-513-3117 or