By: Ted Abernathy, Economic Leadership LLC
Maintaining Momentum is a blog series written by Ted Abernathy, a leader in advancing economic development across North Carolina.
It would be great to find that porch glider, maybe a craft beer, relax and enjoy the spoils of such momentum. But like any place, yesterday is yesterday, and tomorrow we will still have to compete for every job, every dollar of investment and every person trying to decide whether they want to move here or somewhere else they deem awesome.
In a world that is rapidly changing due to technological disruption, rapid urbanization, globalization and shifting demographics, complacency is a real danger. We all need to rebuild and reinforce our competitive foundation even as we enjoy our current success. Today’s momentum is wonderful, but it does not guarantee future prosperity.
The churn in the business sector is dramatic. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017) reports that during a recent, typical quarter, national gross job gains from opening and expanding private-sector establishments were 7.5 million. Gross job losses from closing and contracting private-sector establishments were 7.2 million. The difference yielded a net employment gain of 307,000 jobs. The headlines say that we added over 300,000 jobs, yet all over the country communities are experiencing closed companies that economic developers and entrepreneurial support organizations are frantically working to replace. Our region is no different. We have lost our share of companies big and small.
By continuously monitoring our economic position and the changing trends in business investment, we are working to lay the foundation for the future. One example is our region’s strength in technology. North Carolina was the third fastest growing state for technology jobs between 2010-2015, adding over 40,000 net new jobs. Technology jobs include: Energy Technology, Environmental Technology, Life Sciences and IT, Telecom, Hardware & Software (Tech Core).
From 2010 to 2015, Wake County’s tech sector jobs grew by 49.6%, more than double the state average of 20.6%. Wake County is now home to a quarter of all North Carolina tech sector jobs, and half of the North Carolina growth since 2010 happened in Wake County.
Growth in tech sector jobs has been concentrating in Wake and Mecklenburg counties over the past five years.