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Georgia economy headed for 'soft landing' in 2024

By Dave Williams Capitol Beat News Service

The economic growth Georgia experienced this year will slow down in 2024 but not enough to cause a recession, the dean of the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia said Monday.

“Georgia is well positioned to weather an economic slowdown, and our economy will outperform the U.S. economy,” Ben Ayers told a crowded ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium in the kickoff of UGA’s annual Georgia Economic Outlook series. “Our economy will not bust.”

Ayers said he expects Georgia’s Gross Domestic Product to increase by 1.1% in 2024, smaller than the 3% growth the Peach State saw this year but well above the sluggish national growth rate of 0.8% economists are predicting for 2024.

The number of jobs in Georgia will rise by 0.7% next year, which is slower compared to the 2.3% gain estimated for Georgia in 2023 but higher than the national job growth rate of just 0.3%, Ayers predicted.

Ayers said demographics and the large number of economic development projects in the pipeline are key factors propping up Georgia’s economy. The state’s population grew by 1.2% last year and is expected to double the nation’s growth in 2024, he said.

Meanwhile, Georgia landed a record 426 economic development projects this year, the third straight year the state has set a record in that category.

Ayers said he expects the state’s unemployment rate to rise next year from this year’s 3.4%, but only to 4%.

Inflation, which hit 8% last year, is being cut in half this year to 4%, Ayers said. He said he expects inflation to continue to fall to 2.5% by the end of 2024.

Ayers said risks to Georgia’s economy include continued conflict in the Middle East and Ukraine, potential stock market disruptions, further labor unrest or a government shutdown. But none of these likely would be enough to trigger a recession, he said.

Avery Shenfeld, managing director and chief economist for CIBC, a Chicago- based commercial banking firm, gave a similar economic forecast for the nation. He predicted the U.S. will avoid falling into a recession even as inflation continues to cool from a 40-year high.

The Consumer Price Index has declined to 4% but remains well above the 2% inflation rate the Federal Reserve is seeking.

“We’ve been able to cool (inflation) without slowing economic growth,” Shenfeld said.

Shenfeld predicted sluggish economic growth through the third quarter of next year should begin to pick up late in the year.

“It’s going to end with lower inflation and, therefore, lower interest rates,” he said.

The Georgia Economic Outlook series will continue next month and in February with programs in Athens, Albany, Augusta, Columbus, Jekyll Island, Macon, and Savannah.

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