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UGA Expert: Slower Growth, Athens' Economic Outlook Looks Positive


The economic outlook for Athens next year is positive, though growth is expected to be slower than recent years.

“Athens is doing well, the outlook is positive, the local economy will expand,” That’s according to Jeffrey Humphreys, the Director of Economic Forecasting at the University of Georgia's Terry College. “Basically our economic structure gives us a lot of economic stability.”

He says the local economy has several strengths.

“Athens’ economic structure tilts heavily toward higher education and health care and does not depend on inherently cyclical industries like manufacturing, construction, transportation or logistics.”  

Humphreys delivered the Athens outlook this week. He says Athens is protected from several of the potential pitfalls affecting international trade.

“Athens is not very dependent on exports and therefore is not very vulnerable to the trade war and to the trade shocks that we’ve seen.”

That being said, The Classic City does engage in some trade outside the nation’s borders.

“We do export some machinery and some chemicals. Our primary markets are Canada, Mexico, the European Union and not China.”

There are areas where Athens could be stronger.

“I guess the biggest weakness, and it’s a perennial one, is the lack of an interstate quality connection to Atlanta” Humphreys said. “The second weakness is some relatively low per capita incomes, so that would be two; also we’ve been losing retail jobs.”

Terry College delivers the economic outlook series for the state and local communities in several cities.

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