Athens' Economic Outlook for 2019 Looks Good, According to UGA's Jeff Humphreys

Feb 8, 2019

Economic forecasters from the Terry College of Business making a stop in Athens this week as part of a series of stops around the state to deliver the message.

Dr. Jeffrey Humphreys is the director of the Selig Center for Economic growth. He says The economic outlook for Athens and the state of Georgia 2019 looks good.

“Basically, that’s because of several dynamic drivers,” according to Humphreys. “First of all, Athens tilts towards higher education and healthcare, a third driver is the hospitality industry.”

Another positive is Athens’ proximity to two other booming areas.

“We are very close to Atlanta and Gainesville. Gainesville is the fastest growing metro area in the state right now.”

Humphreys says many of the weak spots regarding tariffs and trade tensions don’t have the same impact in Athens compared to the rest of the state and nation.

“Exports only account for about 3% of GDP in Athens. Our main export in machinery and our main markets for that are the European Union, Canada and Mexico, not China.”

There are some weaknesses fairly unique to Athens.

“I think the weakness that I am concerned about most is the lack on an interstate-quality highway connection to Atlanta and beyond. That really is a limiting factor for Athens’ growth."

Dr. Jeffrey Humphreys

Humphreys says employment should increase by about 1,500 this year. believes trouble could be on the horizon for 2020.

For the sixth year in a row, Georgia will still outpace the nation when it comes to growth.