NC Economy is Strong, and Republicans Still Deserve the Credit
State Economy is Strong, and Republicans Still Deserve the Credit
By Andy Taylor
"The Republicans have enjoyed majorities in both bodies of the General Assembly for nearly seven years now, and pretty soon Phil Berger and Tim Moore will be asking for two more. This is an appropriate time to assess their performance on the economy. Even under the Perdue and Cooper governorships, policy outputs were shaped greatly by House and Senate Republicans, and they have been in the majority long enough that they must hold considerable responsibility for the state’s well-being.
"North Carolina’s economy has expanded steadily. Its average annual growth has been 1.9 percent, and it has never been below 1.4 percent or above 2.7 percent. We’ve avoided the boom-and-bust cycles that have afflicted states that bettered us at the beginning of the period — particularly energy producers like Texas, Wyoming, and the Dakotas — and that are beating us today, principally Western states that were embroiled in the recession for a lot longer. To be fair, the state’s rankings are similar to those achieved in the 1990s and early 2000s. But it’s important to note that under the Democrats in 2007-10 the state’s GDP growth was, when compared to national and regional benchmarks, considerably worse than it has been since.
"The performance looks even better when we examine unemployment. In 2011, only four states had a larger proportion of their workforce out of a job. Today we are ranked 26th. Migration into the state is also strong, demonstrating the desirability of North Carolina as a place to live. From 2010 to 2016 we moved up one place, from 12th to 11th, in the ranking of states by net migration per 1,000 residents. In fact, we are growing more rapidly than before. In 2012 the state gained 5.6 residents per thousand inhabitants from the previous year; in 2016 the figure was 7.9.
"Despite cries to the contrary, North Carolina hasn’t become materially more unequal, at least compared to other states. In 2010 the state was tied for 15th by income inequality as measured by its Gini coefficient, a statistic of dispersion regularly used to measure income distribution. We were in the same spot in 2016, still slightly below the national figure. The reason North Carolina’s rank can be so high yet remain under the benchmark is that most of the top states, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York — all of these are blue incidentally — exhibit extreme inequality.
"Economic policy surely has much to do with this. Over the past seven years the state has undergone a process of deregulation and fiscal disciplining that has provided solid foundations for sustainable ascent through national rankings. We moved up four places in the Cato Institute’s 'economic freedom' index between 2010 and 2014 — the most recent year for which data are available — although we are still just 24th. In the Mercatus Center’s ratings on fiscal and regulatory policy, North Carolina has improved dramatically on measures such as short- and long-term solvency. Over the period We have moved from 21st to second in the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 'Economic Outlook Rank.'
"...North Carolina’s economy is strong and the Republicans in the General Assembly deserve the credit."
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