A Spotlight on the Southeastern States: The Kiplinger Letter

The Southeastern states will see steady job growth in the healthcare and hospitality sectors with some pressures from inward migration.

Miami Florida
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The Southeastern states will all see job gains, though not as good as in 2023. 

Florida is in for a strong year, with an expected 1.7% employment growth in 2024, a slowdown from 2023’s 3.4% gain. The healthcare sector, which surged in recent years, remains strong, with several new hospitals on tap. High-speed rail between Miami and Orlando is up to 32 daily trains. A new soccer stadium is coming to Miami. The state has had the second-highest population growth rate in the U.S. as folks flocked there from other states, though the rate is falling quickly. Why? It’s harder to find affordable homes and reasonably priced hurricane insurance. 

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South Carolina, which will match Florida.’s 1.7% employment growth, down from 2.5% last year, has a similar issue. The state has the highest in-migration rate in the nation, with many newcomers being retirees, spurring growth in healthcare and hospitality. However, the influx has put pressure on the housing sector, which remains tight. Though the Palmetto State isn’t immune to the manufacturing slowdown, its emphasis on the automotive sector has it in a better position than most, given pent-up demand. Recently, 16 manufacturers have announced expansions that will create 2,800 jobs. 

Georgia will see 1.3% job growth, down from 2.3% last year. Healthcare has added jobs nearly as fast as Florida. since the pandemic. Because of this, nonhospital healthcare facility construction will be a bright spot in the Peach State. The leisure and hospitality sector is booming. A new 976-room hotel in Atlanta should help attract more convention business. Though new office construction has slowed, data centers are going strong. Firms are attracted to cheap energy, and the I-20 corridor south of Atlanta is an affordable area for high-tech companies. 

North Carolina is in for decent job gains of 1.2%, after 2.5% last year. The healthcare and hotel sectors are surging, with the latter particularly strong. It’s one of only 10 states where hotels have made a full recovery from the pandemic. Manufacturing and construction are seeing a slowdown. However, the good news is that construction may be on the verge of a turnaround, given the state’s fast pace of population growth.

The Tar Heel State is also becoming a locus for the production of electric vehicle batteries, including Toyota’s first U.S. battery plant, opening in 2025. 

Virginia rounds out the region, with an expected 1.0% job growth, versus 2023’s 2.0% rise. The labor force has been growing rapidly, but job growth in most sectors has mostly disappeared, with the exception of healthcare. The rate of unemployment is likely to tick up from its current low of 2.9%. A $10 billion project to install 176 wind turbines 30 miles off the coast has received federal approval. And the Reagan Airport area near Washington, D.C., could see a lot more development.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter, which has been running since 1923 and is a collection of concise weekly forecasts on business and economic trends, as well as what to expect from Washington, to help you understand what’s coming up to make the most of your investments and your money. Subscribe to The Kiplinger Letter.

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David Payne
Staff Economist, The Kiplinger Letter

David is both staff economist and reporter for The Kiplinger Letter, overseeing Kiplinger forecasts for the U.S. and world economies. Previously, he was senior principal economist in the Center for Forecasting and Modeling at IHS/GlobalInsight, and an economist in the Chief Economist's Office of the U.S. Department of Commerce. David has co-written weekly reports on economic conditions since 1992, and has forecasted GDP and its components since 1995, beating the Blue Chip Indicators forecasts two-thirds of the time. David is a Certified Business Economist as recognized by the National Association for Business Economics. He has two master's degrees and is ABD in economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.