The Charlotte Observer

December 1, 1995

Bank index shows Carolinas ahead of U.S. growth rate

Taylor Batten, Staff Writer

Copyright © 1995, The Charlotte Observer

North Carolina's economy caught fire in the third quarter after a sluggish few months, and South Carolina's economy grew despite massive layoffs, according to a new economic index developed by a First Union economist.

The North Carolina and South Carolina economies grew at annual rates of 5.1 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively, economist Mark Vitner said.

The First Union Gross State Product, released for the first time Thursday, is comparable to the national Gross Domestic Product measure released quarterly by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Vitner has developed measures for seven states and the District of Columbia, and will release them quarterly.

Vitner's figures show South Carolina's GSP grew 5 percent from the third quarter in 1994, and North Carolina's grew 4.5 percent. The nation's economy, in comparison, grew 3.3 percent year-to-year.

North Carolina's charge was led by a rebound in the furniture industry, office equipment and industrial machinery, as well as a strong financial services sector, Vitner said. South Carolina surged despite the loss of 32,000 jobs at the Charleston Naval Base and Savannah River nuclear complex near Aiken. New plants and expansions by AMP, BMW, Nucor, Michelin and others, as well as a strong tourism industry on the coast, helped the state overcome the cuts.

``South Carolina had a growth of 5 percent over the third quarter last year, which I find rather remarkable given the Charleston Navy Yard shutdown,'' Vitner said. ``The industrial development activity has given the economy an enormous boost.''

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Copyright © 1995, The Charlotte Observer.

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