Look no further than your own home to see how the economy is improving.
That new bed you’re sleeping on? Mattress stores are expanding across metro Atlanta. Considering a refrigerator upgrade? Sales of appliances, as well as entire kitchens, from Atlanta-based Home Depot helped big-ticket purchases rise 4.3 percent the last quarter. And that under-construction apartment building nearby fuels demand for Georgia-grown timber.
Housing “is arguably the most critical industry to the state of Georgia. It’s what makes Georgia go,” says Albert Niemi, former dean of UGA’s Terry College of Business who lists the construction, flooring, wood-product and home-improvement industries as key to Georgia’s overall economy.
“The reason Georgia suffered so much in the recession and sluggish recovery is because we had the worst housing starts since the Great Depression.”
Metro housing starts, though still far off the pace of past years, climbed 50 percent in the third quarter versus a year earlier, according to research firm Metrostudy. Single-family home sales rose 4.1 percent in October compared to a year earlier. Prices too are finally increasing.
Even the number of construction jobs — one of the hardest hit professions — rose 6.3 percent during the same time period, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.
Add in homeowner spending on upgrades, repairs, furnishings and finance and housing may, once again, lead Georgia’s economic revival.
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