by Alex Griffin | Investment Associate with Beman Group
Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Commercial
Last Thursday morning, I had the opportunity to attend Augusta University's 12th Annual Economic Forecast Breakfast. Along with various business and education leaders in our city, I left confident knowing that our economy continues to grow to record levels! Dr. Simon Medcalfe, an economics professor at the Hull College of Business at AU, gave the keynote address and pointed out using various metrics that Augusta is performing at a steady rate. For example, our current unemployment rate (see graph below) is 3.4%, a record low for our MSA, and the labor force is above 270,000 people, also a record high. Strong employment will continue pushing up real wages, which is needed to attract more retail businesses. However, record low unemployment could have a negative effect of not being able to fill the open jobs with people whose skill set matches the requirement.
Dr. Medcalfe echoed something I have discussed numerous times with other business leaders in our city. That is, our economy has grown at a steady pace thanks to steady industries: Military, Medical, Manufacturing, and Education. These industries tend to not experience the ebbing and flowing of other industries during recessions, which keeps Augusta growing steady. Fortunate for us, we now have a catalyst called Cyber that will hopefully take these steady industries and elevate them to new levels. I can't wait to attend the 14th or 15th annual breakfast and see how our economy has grown by then!