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How are we doing? – Jobs focus changing

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[Editor’s note: The N.C. Progress Board, a group created by state lawmakers to track trends in North Carolina and set goals for the state, issued its first report in December 2001.

[Each week, the Philanthropy Journal spotlights an issue examined in the report. The goals, targets and analysis below are those of the Progress Board.]

GOAL: North Carolina will revitalize the traditional economic sectors and ensure their competitiveness in national and global markets.

The transformation of North Carolina’s traditional economy, including manufacturing and agriculture, is well underway.

In economic terms, this transformation involves a shift from traditional to knowledge-based manufacturing and a greater focus on international exports.

In human terms, it often means layoffs and economic hardship, a burden inordinately felt by rural communities.

Our challenge is not to save archaic industries or preserve old ways of doing business.

Rather, it is to incorporate the best elements of our traditional economy — pride, work ethic and integrity — into the very foundation of our emerging economy.

TARGET: North Carolina will reach 110 percent of the U.S. ratio of average wages for major growth sectors to average wages for declining sectors.

North Carolina has experienced relatively modest industrial restructuring, but the worst is probably not over, according to the N.C. Board of Science and Technology.

Thus far, while our traditional sectors have incurred profound job losses, our emerging sectors have been able to absorb many of these losses.  Therefore, displaced workers in North Carolina have been more likely to find work at better or equal pay than workers elsewhere.

MEASURE: Ratio of average wages for major growth sectors to average wages for declining sectors as a percentage of the U.S. ratio.

In 1997, North Carolina’s ratio was 97.3, compared to the U.S. ratio of 90.4, according to the N.C. Innovation Index 2000, by the N.C. Board of Science and Technology.

TARGET: North Carolina is one of the top 10 states in the relative strength of traded sectors.

North Carolina’s economy remains competitive in terms of the strength of the traded sectors — that is, industries that compete in interstate, national and international markets and thus bring wealth back to the state.

The state’s most significant traded sectors — such as manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and banking — tend to be traditional economic sectors as well.

MEASURE: U.S. rank in relative strength of traded sectors.

In 2000, North Carolina ranked 20th in the U.S. for traded-sector strength, 27th in traded-sector strength change and 10th in traded-sector competitiveness, according to the Development Report Card for the States, by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, 2000.

TARGET: North Carolina is among the top 10 states in manufacturing jobs as a percentage of non-farm jobs.

North Carolina has been a national leader in manufacturing, ranking 8th in the U.S. in manufacturing State Gross Product.

From 1994 to 1998, North Carolina had the 7th highest increase in average hourly earnings of manufacturing production workers.

Unfortunately, this picture may be misleading.

Although the total number of manufacturing jobs fell only slightly, jobs losses have been more dramatic since 1998 and more severe in certain industries.

North Carolina lost nearly 49,000 manufacturing jobs from July 2000 to July 2001.

From 1990 to 2000, the number of textile and apparel jobs fell by 117,000.

MEASURE: U.S. rank in manufacturing jobs as percentage of non-farm jobs.

In 1998, North Carolina ranked 4th in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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