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Charlotte's outlook for 2022 is looking good, Wells Fargo economist says

Uptown Charlotte's skyline is seen behind construction in September 2021.
Ann Doss Helms
Uptown Charlotte's skyline is seen behind construction in September 2021.

The pandemic-related supply chain backup and the rise of inflation to its highest level in 30 years delivered bleak economic news in 2021.

But not all of the economic news was bad. The federal government’s most recent numbers show Charlotte’s unemployment rate dropped down to 3.3%,from6.2% a year ago.

That’s only one of the reasons Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vintner is bullish about 2022.

“If I was to give North Carolina’s economy a grade, I would say it's probably an A or an A-minus,” Vintner said. “I think that we’re pretty much at the top of the class.”

Vintner rattled off some big economic development wins for North Carolina in 2021, like bringing in Apple and Google campuses and a Toyota battery plant.

“And in Charlotte, we had the big Centene announcement, which they’re building out their new campus in University City,” Vintner said. “The other thing that’s on my radar screen is the Wake Forest School of Medicine, which is merged in with Atrium. And that is going to be a huge growth driver for the city.”

Vitner says employment in some industries, like technology, already exceeds pre-pandemic levels. But other businesses, like restaurants and hotels, won’t bounce back completely until the city can recover from the pandemic. For that to happen, employees need to come back to the office, and business travel must resume.

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Dana Miller Ervin is a reporter at WFAE, examining the U.S. health care system.