North Carolina's economy is recovering, but not at the rate that the state has become accustomed to following previous economic downturns.
That was one of the key points made by John Silvia, chief economist for Wells Fargo in Charlotte, during a conference call with reporters today.
Silvia and another Wells Fargo economist, Michael Brown, discussed North Carolina's recent economic performance and the outlook for 2012 and beyond.
"Yes, we have forward momentum, but just not at the pace we're used to and that we've become accustomed to," Silvia said.
Among the problems facing the state is that while economic output is growing, that increased output is not creating the same number of jobs that it has in the past. That is particularly the case in sectors such as manufacturing.
"A lot of these manufacturing firms are achieving growth but they're doing it through productivity gains, better capital, enhanced manufacturing practices but certainly not in adding on a lot of workers," Silvia said.
Silvia and Brown looked at the state economy as well as data from the metro areas of Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro and Asheville.
The Triangle is "improving far faster than any of the other metro areas across the state," Brown said.
The Triangle employment sector is creating the most jobs is professional and business services. The area is also adding some local government jobs.
"There's been less of a disruption to the tax collections in Raleigh than there has been in other parts of the state," Brown said. "The local government, at least, has not been as strapped for cash as some of the other metro areas."
Brown predicted that the Triangle would continue to add higher-paying technical jobs as well as positions in health care.
"In a matter of months, literally, we're looking for almost a complete recovery at least in the Raleigh metro area in terms of the employment situation," Brown said.
That outlook is quite a bit more optimistic than the one given by a Manpower employment outlook survey that was released today.
The survey results showed that employers in the Raleigh-Cary area expect to hire at a conservative pace during the third quarter.
The Raleigh-Cary MSA employment outlook is one of the weakest in the nation.
Manpower's survey is the result of interviews with more than 15,000 companies across the country.
During today's conference call, Wells Fargo's Silvia noted that incomes in the state had begun growing after a long period of declines.
The lack of income growth in recent year, he noted, has exacerbated the state's budget crisis.
"We're not generating the revenue from the state income tax simply because the income growth is just not there," Silvia said.
He added that the state is undergoing a structural shift in its labor market whereby jobs that can be done cheaper overseas are disappearing and not coming back.
Workers will need to be retrained to qualify for work in the areas of the economy that are adding jobs.
"I think it's just important to understand that the structure of the labor market is changing," he said. "It's changing in terms of what employers expect from their workers and the availability of those workers."