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TRIANGLE EMPLOYMENT GROWS SLIGHTLY; N.C. ECONOMY STRONGER THAN NATION

TRIANGLE EMPLOYMENT GROWS SLIGHTLY; N.C. ECONOMY STRONGER THAN NATION
    RALEIGH, N.C., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The number of people working in the Raleigh-Durham MSA has been growing for more than a year, auto and retail sales are up, and home-building in the Triangle is the strongest it's been in at least three years.
    Boardings at Raleigh-Durham International Airport also are up, but commercial construction continues to be slow. These are among the findings of the Triangle Perspectives ecomonic report released by First Union today.
    "We're seeing positive trends on a fairly broad basis that indicate the Triangle economy is still relatively healthy compared against the national backdrop," said Jim Fain, First Union's Raleigh area executive.
    North Carolina as a whole also compares favorably to the national economy. North Carolina employment was 0.6 percent higher in August than in August 1991, whereas the national gain was 0.2 percent.  N.C. retail sales in June were 9.5 percent higher, compared with a 3.0 percent gain nationally.  Single-family home permits in the state through August are up 30 percentp?ared to 21 percent growth in the U.S.  Multi-family permits here are up 7.8 percent, compared to a 3.2 percent decline nationally.  Personal income in North Carolina rose 5.4 percent from the first quarter of last year, compared with 4.0 percent for the entire U.S.
    Nationally, the job market took a turn for the worse in August, despite a small dip in unemployment.  August employment declined by 83,000 jobs, despite creation of 100,000 temporary summer jobs for teenagers.
    "This summer drop in employment is further evidence of the determination of U.S. companies to improve their productivity and efficiency," said David Orr, First Union's chief economist.  "The decline in jobs in the private sector of 167,000 is in sharp contrast to the boost in the index of aggregate hours worked, which rose at a 10.4 percent annual rate in August."
    Orr said that structural transitions, such as the defense slowdown and debt reduction, would likely last another couple of years, regardless of who is in the White House.  "In the meantime, the pattern of mini-cycles, with ups and downs in our economy, is likely to continue," he said.  "The key is not to get overly optimistic when a string of good numbers appears nor too pessimistic when data like this drop in employment appear."
    In the Triangle, employment in the Raleigh/Durham MSA grew at an estimated 0.8 percent rate for 1992 through August.  Employment in the month of August was 0.1 percent higher than a year earlier, increasing by 400 to 422,600 jobs.  The unemployment rate in August also was up, however, to 4.1 percent from 3.6 percent a year earlier but is still well below the state rate of 6.2 percent and the national rate of 7.6 percent.
    "Growth of employment and unemployment at the same time simply means our labor force is growing faster than we can create new jobs," Fain said.  "I believe rising unemployment here as much a result of the attractiveness of our area to newcomers and new graduates entering the workforce as a sign of increased layoffs," Fain said.  "Government employment here continues to be a stabilizing factor in our labor market as well."
    Stabilizing employment may also have boosted residential construction.  Single-family home permits in the Triangle were up 38.6 percent the first half of this year. Home-building through June was the strongest it's been since 1987 in Wake and Orange counties, with 2,644 and 351 homes permitted, respectively.  Durham County reported its best year since 1989, with 583 homes permitted.  Multifamily permits in the Triangle through June totaled 399, a 49.4 percent increase over 1991, but still well below 1990 levels.
    Commercial construction in the Triangle through June totaled $100.3 million, a 30.6 percent drop from last year.  "We're seeing a steady absorption of office space and low apartment vacancy here in Wake County, which in time should lead to a more solid outlook for the commercial construction sector," Fain said.
    Car dealers are beginning to see some improvement, with new car and truck sales increasing 10.2 percent through August to 31,820 units. Retail sales through June were up 7.7 percent to $2.7 billion in Wake County; up 8.0 percent to $878.3 million in Durham County; and were 2.2 percent higher in Orange County at $323.1 million.
    Passenger boardings at Raleigh-Durham International through July were 3.6 percent higher than 1991 at 2,870,652.
    First Union National Bank of North Carolina is a principal subsidiary of Charlotte-based First Union Corporation (NYSE: FTU FTUpr) and operates 270 offices in more than 200 North Carolina Communities.
    -0-             09/30/92
    CONTACT:  (Media)  Sandy Deem of First Union Corporation, 704-374-2710
    (FTU) CO:  FIRST UNION CORPORATION SU:  ECO ST:  NC -- CH004 -- X584  09/30/92
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 30, 1992
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