Friday, February 13, 2009

The Charlotte Boom Goes Bust

Job losses are hitting Charlotte, NC particularly hard:

Think you’d rather ride out the recession in Charlotte than in Rust Belt cities such as Buffalo or Pittsburgh?

Think again.

The record-setting pace of job losses here has left Charlotte’s economy reeling in ways seldom seen before. The metro area’s unemployment rate nearly doubled in 2008, reaching 8.9% at year end.

Of the 49 metro areas with more than 1 million residents, Charlotte’s unemployment rate ranks 45th, just above recession-hammered Las Vegas and Detroit. The jobless rate for the 16-county region is 9.5%. The national average is 7.6%.

There are a lot of transplants from Pittsburgh and Buffalo living in Charlotte. This might be an indicator of another looming economic migration. I'm not sure what the labor mobility situation is in Charlotte. Are there job sectors starved for talent?

Richard Florida passes along some Charlotte optimism:

Deborah Strumsky, an economist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, told me she believes that in the end, both Charlotte’s banking industry and Charlotte itself will emerge from the crisis all the stronger: “The Wells Fargo deal has saved thousands of jobs by keeping Wachovia afloat. More importantly, Bank of America has taken to the banking crisis like a shopaholic with a new credit card; it has been bargain-hunting and cutting some astonishing deals. Bank of America will come out the other side far better than in any fantasy it might have entertained previously.”

Florida seems to take a more wait-and-see attitude. No doubt, the jury is still out on Charlotte's future.

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