Experts: 2013 strong year for NC's economy

by: Peter Daut Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

Experts said 2013 proved to be a strong year for North Carolina's economy.

According to the state Commerce Department, transportation, trade and utilities showed heavy growth in North Carolina over the past year. Those sectors added 15,000 jobs, the most since October.

Howard Shope with International Express Trucking said he's not surprised, and that his business grew 30 percent in 2013.

"We're starting to see inventory levels build up again with some of the manufacturers locally. That impacts our freight movement through the system. And obviously, the Charlotte Douglas Airport continued growth," he said.

In November 2012, North Carolina's unemployment rate stood at 9.4 percent. Now, the state's unemployment rate is at 7.4 percent. The total labor force has been declining in recent months, partly because as people roll off unemployment benefits, they are no longer counted in the labor force. These people don't necessarily have jobs, but they're no longer counted as unemployed.

The two-point drop was the steepest decline of any state year over year.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte added more than 8,200 jobs in 2013, and created nearly $820 million in capital investment. Both numbers surpassed the Chamber's goal of 5,100 jobs and $415 million in investment.

"Sales seem to be up, profits seem to be up, lots of hiring in select markets, so 2013 was a good year," Kenny Colbert with the Employers Association said.

Colbert said before 2013, many companies were reluctant to hire because of the economy.

"People are now spending that money they've had pent up for the past two or three years," he said.