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Georgia not immune to slow economy

ATLANTA - Georgia is no longer holding out against the negative trends that are buffeting the national economy, according to a quarterly checkup on the state's economic outlook.

A report issued Wednesday by the Economic Forecasting Center at Georgia State University found the state's economic indicators mostly on a downward track, mirroring the national picture.

The housing market looks particularly bleak, said Rajeev Dhawan, the center's director.

"We are fortunate that the state's default rate on home loans ... is below the national average," he said. "(But), we've still seen a steady rise in foreclosures.

"It's obvious, just as it is on the national level, that the damage has begun, and only time will tell how much bigger it will get and how much of an impact it will be on the region."

In the Atlanta region, housing permits decreased last year by 5.2 percent. The report predicts a sharper dropoff of 21.3 percent this year but a small rebound in 2008 and 2009.

Dhawan's quarterly report also found a continuation of a long-term downward trend in Georgia's technology and manufacturing sectors and new reasons for concern about the hospitality industry and business services.

The health care industry and small businesses were among the few bright spots.

As with housing, the report predicted a dampening in job growth this year statewide followed by an improving outlook next year and in 2009.

The Atlanta region is expected to add nearly 41,000 jobs this year, 57,000 in 2008 and about 63,000 in 2009.