(October 2, 2017) - Armstrong State University’s latest Coastal Empire Economic Monitor, which analyzes data and identifies trends affecting the regional economy, reports that the Savannah metro economy continued healthy growth in the second quarter of 2017 while forecasting moderately slower year-end movement.
“Growth in the regional economy continued during the second quarter, yet some underlying softness in key variables and the effects of Hurricane Irma point toward a weaker-than-expected third quarter,” noted Dr. Michael Toma, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Economics and the Director of Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis. “However, the regional economy was quick to shake off the effects of Hurricane Mathew in 2016 and a similar response to Irma is expected. Sustained economic growth is projected through early 2018.”
The local housing market registered its third consecutive quarter of growth, despite declining national residential construction figures. Building-permit issuance for single-family homes in the Savannah Metro area increased by 8.5 percent in the first quarter, reflecting a 17 percent jump from the year prior. The average valuation of building permits for single-family homes fell by about 3 percent for the second consecutive quarter, dropping from $226,000 to $218,000.
Additional highlights from the latest Economic Monitor include:
- The Coastal Empire leading economic index jumped 1.8 percent, rising to 162.6 from 159.8 in the previous quarter. Similar to the first quarter, the forecasting index was supported by lagged changes in residential home building permit issuance and the U.S. leading economic index. Initial claims for unemployment insurance remained low.
- In the tourism industry, seasonally adjusted hotel room rental revenue dipped slightly in the second quarter, but remains 10 percent above last year’s level. The number of visitors on city tours declined 10 percent from robust first quarter numbers, but like other regional economic data, remains strongly ahead of results from 2016’s second quarter figures. Airport travel increased by 2 percent and employment in the leisure and hospitality sector of the economy is approximately 27,000, or 4 percent higher than year-ago data.
- Total employment in the three-county metro area slid to 179,000, following a loss of 800 jobs. Nonetheless, regional employment remained 2.5 percent ahead of last year and on-trend in terms of growth performance. Notably, manufacturing employment increased 400 jobs to 16,800 workers, ending a five-quarter decline. Service sector employment was 154,500, 2.4 percent ahead of the prior year.
- Activity at Savannah’s port continued its record-setting tear, with new all-time high levels of volume through the quarter. There was a slight dip in volume in the second quarter, however, container handling remained 13.4 percent higher than one year ago.
- The regional labor market continues to tighten in response to sustained increases in the demand for labor. Seasonally adjusted initial claims for unemployment insurance fell modestly from 535 to 522 per month. In addition, the regional unemployment rate fell from 4.8 to 4.6 percent.
The Coastal Empire Economic Monitor presents quarterly economic trends and short-term economic forecasts for Savannah’s Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). 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.
The report presents a short-term forecast of the region’s economic activity in the next six to nine months and is available for free by email. To subscribe, email CRA@armstrong.edu.
Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis, housed in the university’s economics department, meets the applied research needs of Savannah's business and community organizations. Areas of concentrated research include regional economic forecasting, economic impact analysis, economic development and business expansion, tourism development, survey-based research and specialty reports on topics of state, regional and local interest.
NOTE TO MEDIA
Dr. Michael Toma, director of Armstrong’s Center for Regional Analysis, is available for telephone interviews at 912.344.2538. Media may also contact Melanie Simón at 912.344.2904 or Melanie.Simon@armstrong.edu for interview and image requests.