• Indexes maintained by the Center for Regional Analysis at Armstrong Atlantic State University show a sustained rebound from the sharp economic crash of 2007-2009.
    Indexes maintained by the Center for Regional Analysis at Armstrong Atlantic State University show a sustained rebound from the sharp economic crash of 2007-2009.

The Savannah, Ga., metropolitan area showed solid signs of a continuing economic recovery in the third quarter of 2012, according to an economic analysis published by the Center for Regional Analysis of the Department of Economics at Armstrong Atlantic State University ("Economy Up Again - Forecasting Index Continues Upward Trend").

Savannah had robust job growth on the quarter, the report said: the 3,100 jobs added "were entirely in the private sector and service side of the economy, with growth in education/health (+1,000), leisure/hospitality (+800), business/professional services (+500), and retail sales (+500) leading the hiring surge." But construction employment in the Savannah market was down by 100 jobs.

Signs for the future are strong — including for construction, the report said: "The seasonally adjusted number of new residential homes permitted for construction increased sharply, rising 34 percent above the previous quarter. Two hundred ninety-five permits were issued, the highest quarterly total in four years. Quarterly permit issuance in 2012 has surpassed that of every comparable quarter for 2010 and 2011, and in the aggregate, outpaced 2009. Overall, permit issuance is 15 percent over last year's pace and is on track to be the best year since 2008. However, the average value of a residential building permit issued decreased 7.6 percent to $152,200 from $164,800 in the second quarter."

Not all economists see such a bright picture, however. In November, Georgia State University economist Rajeev Dhawan described "dim growth prospects" for the Savannah area, the website BusinessInSavannah reported ("Savannah economy to limp due to 'fiscal cliff'," by Walter C. Jones).

And the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth in the Terry College of Business predicted "anemic job growth — well under 1 percent — for the Savannah area in 2013," notes Savannah Morning News columnist Bill Dawers ("Conflicting economic predictions for Savannah: Who's right?").

But the so-called fiscal cliff, Dawers says, is likely to manifest more as a drag than as a shock, and he argues that there are countervailing forces at work locally: "Savannah has experienced a surge in new investment throughout 2012. In the last few months, employment numbers have been reflecting that robust trend. Since employment is a lagging indicator of economic activity, we have every reason to expect that the good news will continue in the first part of 2013."