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Haywood construction industry fell 34 percent in recession

During the past decade, Haywood County’s economy has seen some ups — but mostly downs.

A presentation given at the recent Haywood County Economic Development Commission meeting offers a glimpse of how the county fared before and during the recession. The decade worth of numbers presented shows drastic declines in employment and growth but little or no rebound since.

Research economist Tom Tveidt, of SYNEVA Economics in Asheville, was commissioned to do an economic trends study for Old Town Bank based in Waynesville. The study is now being shared with the community.

Sectors impacted the most by the recession were construction, manufacturing and wholesale trade. The number of construction jobs declined 34 percent during the recession, and demand for second-homes in the mountains withered. Wholesale trade and manufacturing slid by 37 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

On the bright side, manufacturing and wholesale industries have begun growing once again though have yet to bounce back completely.

Total employment in the county tumbled from almost 27,000 jobs in 2008 to about 24,850 in 2009. Employment numbers have continued to fluctuate during the past couple year but never reached more than 25,600 jobs.

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The sustained decline in job opportunities may have affected Haywood County’s population numbers as well.

“That explains the people leaving,” said Kevin Ensley, a member of the Economic Development Commission after seeing the decline in jobs. Ensley is also a Haywood County Commissioner.

Haywood County residents have a little extra room compared to a couple years ago.

Its population saw a decline of a little more than 200 people in 2010, bucking an almost two decade long trend of population increases. Last year’s drop in population was the county’s first decline since 1990.

Despite the recent drop, Haywood County’s population grew by 4,802 people during the first decade of this century, and the county is ranked 55th in the state for growth.

County residents are also getting older though.

As a popular location for retirees and second homebuyers, Haywood County has historically had an aging demographic. But, in 2010, the majority of resident were reportedly in their 50s or 60s, compared to just 10 years ago when most were in their 40s and 50s.

County governments receive state and federal funding based on their projected economic and population growth. The predictions are based on past growth, such as the number of building permits issued.

Prior to 2008, the county issued an average of 32 building permits each month. That number dropped to 13 after 2008.

Haywood County has benefited monetarily from estimated growth projections in the past.

“We get over ranked” and receive additional money because the number of second homebuyers who either purchase or build homes in the county, Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown said.


2000-2010 Population

Increased 4,802 or 8.6%

2010 population decreased 217

First decline since 1990

Total employment from 2008 to 2009

Almost 27,000 down to 24,850

Average building permits per-month

Pre 2008: 32; Post 2008: 13

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