Georgia Southern University’s latest Economic Monitor, which analyzes Q1 2019 data and identifies trends affecting the regional economy, reports that Savannah's metro economy opened 2019 with notably slower growth compared to previous quarters.
Tourism activity lifted the index while electricity sales and port activity slowed during the quarter, which in turn, constrained economic expansion in the region.
“Despite mixed signals among leading economic indicators, the overall direction of the economy is favorable, albeit at a moderately slower pace of growth through the remainder of 2019,” said Michael Toma, Ph.D., Fuller E. Callaway professor of economics and director of the Center for Business Analytics and Economic Research (CBAER).
During the first quarter, the Savannah metro economy expanded at a rate of 0.4%, or 1.8% annualized, which is about half the pace of expansion in the previous quarter. Tourism was key in lifting the index, offsetting a modest decline in electricity sales to residential, commercial and industrial users. In addition to tourism, consumer spending and overall employment growth raised the index, while port activity remained stable amid growing tension over trade policy with several major U.S. trade partners.
Overall, the Savannah metro economy appears to have weakened during the first quarter of 2019. While most of the eight key indicators of economic activity in the Savannah metro region improved, gains were modest. Slowing employment growth, primarily in business and profession services employment, along with the second consecutive uptick in the unemployment rate warrant continued close monitoring of the regional economy. Although economic expansion is expected to continue, a modest reduction in the growth rate is likely on tap for the remainder of 2019.