While growth in high paying jobs remains sluggish, Georgia‘s exports benefited in 2003 from a surge in sales overseas, buoyed by a weaker dollar that has made the state’s products more affordable abroad, according to a report authored by Rajeev Dhawan, director of Georgia State University‘s Economic Forecasting Center.

            Released last week, the report cites a 16.1 percent increase in exports of Georgia products compared to the same period a year ago, jumping from $7.1 billion in 2002 to $8.3 billion through the third quarter of 2003.

            Exports to Canada climbed 8.5 percent to $2.1 billion in the third quarter of 2003, maintaining the country’s ranking as Georgia’s largest trading partner.

            Georgia’s exports to Japan, its second-largest export market, also posted positive growth in the third quarter, following years of export decline between the two regions.  The shift is the second quarter of positive growth in a row for Georgia-Japan trade, reflecting a small upswing in the Japanese economy, said Dr. Dhawan.

Mexico edged out Britain for the third-place ranking in the third quarter, increasing imports from Georgia by $59 million to $581 million this year.  The two had alternated third and fourth-place rankings in the first and second quarters of the year.

            He also indicated in his report that China would move from the No. 7 spot in the next couple of years to become one of Georgia’s top five trading partners.  Exports to China in the third quarter of 2003 reached $314 million, an increase of $119 million from the 2002 level.

            The Netherlands, Germany and Belgium chimed in as the fifth-, sixth- and 10th-largest importers respectively of products from Georgia.  Ireland was the only country in Georgia’s top 10 trading partners to report a decrease in exports from Georgia of 14.4 percent to $187 million.    

Regionally, Georgia posted overall gains in export growth to Asia and Europe, as well as in the regional category known as “Rest of the World.”  However, according to the report, Georgia exports to South America decreased through the third quarter of 2003.

            Georgia’s top five export products, in ascending ranking order, are transportation equipment, computer and electronic products, chemicals, non-electrical machinery and paper.

            In discussing job growth in Georgia, Dr. Dhawan blames the slow recovery in the United States on the movement of manufacturing jobs abroad and widespread use of new technologies, including computers and software, which increase labor productivity and reduce the need for additional workers.

            And though Georgia is to post a net gain of 66,800 jobs by the end of 2003, most are low paying administrative and support service jobs, which do not translate into the purchasing power necessary to sustain a full recovery, he told GlobalFax in a telephone interview.

            A turnaround is expected in mid-2004, as companies begin hiring high-paid management workers to foster investment and oversee capital expenditures, he said.  According to the report, Georgia will gain an estimated 63,200 new jobs in 2004, with a real recovery visible in 2005 when an estimated 96,700 jobs are to be created in the state.

For additional information, contact Georgia State’s Economic Forecasting Center at (404) 651-3298.