TIFTON -- A nationally recognized economist told members of the Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce (COC) Thursday that Georgia's economic rebound out of recession depends on consumer confidence.

"Consumer confidence dipped in September, but consumer confidence has been rising," Dr. Roger Tutterow said. "In Georgia, we have seen a parallel shift upwards in the past three months."

Tutterow has served since 1995 as chairman of Coles School of Business-Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University. He spoke to local business leaders at a COC luncheon at Spring Hill Country Club.

Tutterow said the recovery from the current economic recession will come slowly with unemployment rates continuing to rise through this spring and summer before peaking in late summer and fall.

"A six percent national unemployment rate is still pretty good," Tutterow said.

Tutterow said Georgia "shed" 90,000 jobs in the 12-month period ending in January.

Tutterow predicts that people who in the area who have been laid off will be rehired because they are skilled employees.

Tifton's educational institutions and the fact that Tifton is "seen as a hub for transportation," are "advantages" to economic development according to Tutterow.

"All (factors) play a crucial role," Tutterow. "You have to have a well-trained and available work force.""

Tiftarea's "favorable cost of living is another" factor that explains "why businesses make decisions to move here," Tutterow said.

Describing the housing market as one of the "amazing success stories of 2001," Tutterow said the local economy should continue to benefit from low mortgage interest rates.

"Everything you can do to provide affordable housing would encourage people not only to work here but to live here," Tutterow said.

To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.

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