Gas prices, employment leading to better south Georgia economy - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Gas prices, employment leading to better south Georgia economy

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - 2014 ended with the economy in better shape than we've seen in a long time.

What does 2015 hold?

Low gas prices mean we've got more money in our pockets to spend on other things. That could stimulate in the economy this year, but gas prices aren't the only sign that the economy is getting better.

We haven't seen gas prices this low in years. It's just another sign the local economy will see brighter days in 2015.

"We should see some gains and we are already seeing that nationwide and in Atlanta, but I think eventually it's going to filter through here," said Aaron Johnson.

Darton State College Assistant Economics Professor Aaron Johnson says low gas prices can bring a big boost to Albany's economy.

"We're a retail center for the regional area and because of lower gas prices we should see people from Mitchell County from our surrounding counties come travel to Albany during the weekend," said Johnson.

Those filling up their cars are happy a full tank doesn't mean an empty wallet, and they have plans for the money they're saving.

"Keep it in my pocket and going to do leisurely things like going out to eat," said Dewayne Cheatham.

"It's good because you get better gas mileage," said Javoski King.

Johnson says lower demand for oil in Europe and activity in other countries is driving gas prices down.

"I really think the main driver is Saudi Arabia, they are increasing their crude oil production," said Johnson.

And drivers are enjoying prices under two dollars a gallon while they can.

"I don't believe it may go back to a dollar but right now I think it's good right now," said Cheatham.

Georgia's unemployment rate is still well above the national average, but it is down to 7.2 percent, and Johnson expects it to continue to improve this year.

"I've noticed in the last couple of years more people entering the work force so that suggest the local economy is getting better," said Johnson.

According to AAA, Americans saved 14-billion in gas in 2014 compared to what we paid in 2013.

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