Thanks to 2016, 2017 for North Carolina Looks to be an Economic Boom

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks to supporters at an election rally in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. The race between McCrory and Democrat Roy Cooper remains too close to call. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

The house that Pat built.

Well, exiting Governor Pat McCrory and the GOP-led North Carolina General Assembly built this economic boom for the Tar Heel state. We can only hope that the feckless North Carolina voters haven’t ruined things for the state’s economic well-being.

Michael Walden, a N.C. State University economist is predicting that 2017 will see North Carolina continue to pull ahead of the rest of the nation, in terms of economic growth.

To be precise, North Carolina’s urban centers – with plenty of high-tech jobs and advanced degrees and population growth – will outperform the national average. In an annual forecast issued Tuesday, Walden said he expects the unemployment rates in the Triangle and Asheville to fall below 4 percent next year, breaking a barrier not seen since well before the 2008 recession.

In 2016, North Carolina performed above the national average in key economic measures, such as gross domestic product, labor force expansion, payroll jobs and inflation-adjusted wages. And Walden said the growth will be even faster in 2017. The main reason: population growth. Walden said U.S. Census forecasts show North Carolina’s population increasing 30 percent faster than the national population next year.

Walden predicts the state will add more than 100,000 jobs in 2017 – with the most jobs being added on the high and low ends of the pay scale.

President-elect Trump’s economic policies may play heavily into how well the state does in 2017, however.

Walden points out that economic nationalism could have damaging effects on the economy, nationwide.

For example, limiting foreign imports and promoting domestic production could result in other countries retaliating by means of tariffs or lawsuits to cut their purchases of U.S. goods.

Trump has made a promise to boost military spending and promote domestic energy production. If he holds to that particular promise, it will prove a huge benefit to North Carolina.

North Carolina is home to the world’s largest military base, Fort Bragg. Not to mention Camp LeJeune, Cherry Point, Camp Mackall, Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, and others. Any boost to military spending would tend to benefit the state.

Offshore oil drilling could create 17,000 permanent jobs, Walden estimates, as the largest quantity of undersea oil deposits along the eastern seaboard are off the coast of North Carolina. However, the energy-related job gains could offset existing jobs in tourism and fishing, Walden noted.

So 2016 gave a great running start to 2017 for the state.

It would be nice if Governor-elect Cooper would be sure to thank Governor McCrory for doing all the heavy lifting, beforehand – and then just get out of the way for the next four years.