In Cobb County, where the jobless rate was 8.1 percent in May, decision-makers are cautiously optimistic about the economic outlook for the remainder of the year.
Kennesaw State University economist Dr. Don Sabbarese said uncertainty continues to cloud the future.
“If we follow the pattern from 2010 and 2011, we’ll probably see some improvement in the latter half of the year, but not much,” he said. “The (presidential) election, Europe and a global slowdown is weighing down economic growth and jobs. Once the election is behind us, it will clear up some of the uncertainty we’re now facing.”
Cobb has collected a total of $55,389,476 in sales tax revenue in the first six months of the year, including $11.8 million in June, according to county records.
Housing permits in the county have also increased since 2011. Between January and May, 467 permits were issued, including 126 permits in April.
“Our digest was down by less than 1 percent, so that’s an encouraging sign things are slowing down in the housing value market and sales tax collection numbers are up, so that’s always a good indicator because those are usually what recover first,” said Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee.
“Economically, I would say we’re going to have a relatively flat year versus last year, but we hope to have some more job announcements for the second half of the year.”
Holly Bass, CEO of Cobb Travel and Tourism, said she sees a solid second half of the year for the county’s attractions, conference sites and hotels.
“It’s obviously a great summer for our big attractions, Six Flags and White Water, especially with all the heat this year,” Bass said.
“Other attractions are still bringing in some nice conventions and trade show markets, and sports is going really good with Perfect Games coming in for the rest of the summer. Summer definitely looks good and I would anticipate that continuing into the fall.”
Cobb ranks as the second-largest jobs market in Georgia, according to a June report by the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Second only to Fulton County, Cobb holds 7.19 percent of the state’s jobs.
Mirroring population sizes, Marietta topped all other cities in the county, holding 18.10 percent of the Cobb’s jobs, followed by Smyrna (6.58 percent), Kennesaw (3.63 percent), Acworth (1.49 percent), Austell (0.69 percent) and Powder Springs (0.62 percent), according to the report.
In April, Ozone Fitness owner Steve Mitcham, along with two business partners, moved their fitness center into Smyrna’s Market Village. The downtown mixed-use development off Atlanta Road has been plagued by vacancies but is slowly recovering as four businesses have recently become new tenants.
“There’s not really a good facility here in the general area, so we thought it would be a good place to work,” Mitcham said of the move.
Roughly the same number of business licenses has been issued so far in Smyrna as in the previous year, which prompted the city to change its Economic Incentive Program to follow a sliding scale to encourage small- and medium-sized companies to relocate to the city and expand existing businesses.
“We don’t have a whole lot of undeveloped land so although we still work to recruit folks to move here, the most important folks are the people already here,” said Andrea Hall, city redevelopment coordinator. “Keeping those employers happy where they are is one of our big focuses here in Smyrna.”
Following June’s jobs report, Obama acknowledged that the numbers weren’t enough but said the country is headed in the right direction.
U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) released a statement criticizing the president’s recovery effort. Price is scheduled to appear this morning on Fox News Sunday to discuss the economy, health care and other news.
“The Obama administration’s focus on excessive regulation and ever increasing taxes to chase ever-higher deficit spending has made doing business in America even more difficult for those who create jobs and drive our economy,” he stated.