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17 Things You Should Know About Carolinas’ Economy

The 8th Annual Interface Carolinas Conference was held on June 1, 2017 in Charlotte and was, as usual, very informative. The Interface Carolinas Conference is a one-day affair that discusses the state of the Carolinas’ commercial markets. It focuses on retail, office, multi-family, and industrial sectors as well as capital markets.

I thought it might be helpful to share a few points that really stuck out to me during the conference. Continue reading for my greatest takeaways.

  1. Unemployment is down across the country. However caution should be exercised as a person is considered “employed” if they have worked only 1 paid hour in a given week.
  2. Migration across the country is at its lowest rate since World War II. Despite this, the southeast has had good population growth.
  3. GDP is expected to grow 1% in 2017 and 2.7% growth is projected for 2018.
  4. The inflation rate has been temporarily depressed due to a flood of merchandise requiring liquidation for retail store closings – this is temporary.
  5. Tax reforms are projected as the GOP needs something for mid-term elections.
  6. Two interest rate hikes are expected for 2017.
  7. Manufacturing has gained momentum.
  8. The Carolinas are one of the fastest growing areas in the country; however the growth is concentrated in the MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) and along the coast.
  9. Nationwide, 15 urban areas have accounted for almost all multi-family construction since the recession ended.
  10. Home ownership is projected to increase for the next 10 years as the millennial cohort average age reaches 37 years. This is the age where home ownership really takes off.
  11. From 2010 to 2016, 150,000 people have moved to Charlotte.
  12. Retirees are moving to the Carolinas in increasing numbers. 10 more years of strong growth for retirees is projected for the Carolinas. The Wilmington MSA has had the strongest growth.
  13. 105,000 jobs are forecast to be added to the Carolinas in 2017.
  14. The South Carolina single-family home market has recovered well and is not at pre-recession levels.
  15. The North Carolina single-family home market is more anemic as it is only 2/3 of pre-recession levels.
  16. HB2 did not have much of an immediate impact on job growth. The impact probably won’t be seen in statistical numbers until 2018 – 2019 due to the lethargy of corporate relocations.
  17. Mixed-use retail is doing really well. However, growing online retail sales are projected to deeply impact retail centers with an increasing pace of center closures expected.

In general, we are very fortunate to live in the Carolinas. The economy is humming along and indications are the immediate future will be bright.

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Aging Boomers: Exploring Senior Living Expectations

The senior living industry is at the start of a renaissance in both growth and design. This is based on two simple factors: numbers and taste. First, the numbers: Members of the boomer generation were born between 1946 and 1964, and make up 76 million of our current US population. Ignoring the death and immigration rates (immigration far outpaced death), that 76 million number becomes conservative. The boomer generation started to retire, unofficially, on January 1, 2011, at a rate of approximately 11,500 people per day. It is also the wealthiest generation in American history, having earned roughly 3.7 trillion dollars, over twice that of their predecessor generation. In short, more people with more money are starting to retire, and they’re likely to spend it.

Now on to taste: Boomers will eventually face the same medical issues that generations before them faced – and traditional nursing and memory care will continue to be essential for those instances. In the meantime, however, they will demand better living, social, and amenity spaces. They are a more active and social than previous generations, and this has an increasing effect on their expectations. The boomers won’t accept the institutional senior housing projects that their parent’s generation retired to. They are expecting more. Boomers going into senior facilities want multiple dining options, gyms, spas, clubrooms, bars, and pools.  Senior living projects now rival hospitality projects in the amenities they offer. These projects stand in stark contrast to the more antiseptic facilities designed a decade ago. Biophilic design principles have gained traction in recent years, primarily because they complement the boomer’s social and active lifestyles.  Perkins Eastman wrote an excellent white paper about this if you’d like to read more.

These nascent trends must be considered when designing senior facilities for boomers. Having extensive knowledge in multifamily, hospitality, and traditional senior living designs will greatly assist in shifting senior living into a more modernized experience.

At VP Engineering, we look forward to doing our small part in helping our elders realize the retirements that they so richly deserve.