What are North Carolina’s prospects for making a sustained COVID-19 economic recovery? With a still-staggering labor market and economic hardship on the rise, state leaders have committed to the priorities of economic growth and prosperity. In this Brief, to assess the state’s prospects for sustained recovery, we focus on two main components: the state’s fiscal health and the state’s economic health. We revied recent studies on North Carolina’s state budget to show how years of fiscal discipline have put the state budget in good condition. Next, we measure economic health by combining recent studies on economic freedom. We discuss many useful approaches to measuring the health of an economy, but economic freedom indexes are directly related to North Carolina’s stated objectives of promoting growth and prosperity, especially in rural areas.
We find that North Carolina has created a balanced improvements in the state’s economic climate. However, there is room for improvement, especially in worker regulations and market restrictions. Furthermore, the pandemic has altered the way the government regulates economic activity. Many North Carolina’s COVID-19 economic policies today will be affixed into future measure and indexes of economic conditions. North Carolina currently lags behind Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia in these rankings. These indexes are known to correlate with economic growth and prosperity. Therefore, the decisions of today’s policymakers will affect the climate of COVID-19 economic recovery well into the future. North Carolina’s prospects for sustained recovery are good, underscoring the need to maintain good fiscal health and continue improving economic health in the state.
This piece originally appeared in WCU Center for Study of Free Enterprise