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News Release Information

16-1265-ATL
Thursday, June 23, 2016

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County Employment and Wages in North Carolina – Fourth Quarter 2015

Employment increased in all nine of North Carolina’s large counties from December 2014 to December 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (Large counties are defined as those with employment of 75,000 or more as measured by 2014 annual average employment.) Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that employment increases ranged from 4.0 percent in Mecklenburg County to 0.7 percent in Cumberland County. (See table 1.)

Nationally, employment advanced 1.9 percent from December 2014 to December 2015 as 308 of the 342 largest U.S. counties registered increases. Williamson, Tenn., recorded the largest rate of increase, up 6.8 percent. Ector, Texas, had the largest over-the-year decrease in employment among the largest U.S. counties, down 11.8 percent.

Among the nine largest counties in North Carolina, employment was highest in Mecklenburg County (658,400) in December 2015, while Catawba County had the smallest employment level (85,300). Together, North Carolina’s large counties accounted for 53.8 percent of total employment within the state. Nationwide, the 342 largest counties made up 72.5 percent of total U.S. employment, which stood at 141.9 million in December 2015.

Each of North Carolina’s nine large counties posted over-the-year wage increases in December 2015. Durham County had the highest average weekly wage among the state’s largest counties ($1,278), followed by Mecklenburg County ($1,204), and Wake County ($1,071). Nationally, the average weekly wage rose 4.4 percent to $1,082 in the fourth quarter of 2015. (See table 1.)

Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 91 counties in North Carolina with employment below 75,000. With the exception of Orange County ($1,094), wage levels in all of these smaller counties were below the U.S. average in December 2015. (See table 2.)

Large county wage changes

Average weekly wages increased in each of the large counties in North Carolina from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the fourth quarter of 2015. The wage gains in three of the state’s large counties placed in the top fourth of the national ranking—Catawba (8.9 percent, 9th), Mecklenburg (6.8 percent, 36th), and Cumberland (6.1 percent, 73rd). (See table 1.)

Nationally, 325 of the 342 largest counties had over-the-year wage increases. Wyandotte, Kan., had the largest wage increase among the largest U.S. counties (10.4 percent). Sonoma, Calif., was second with a wage increase of 10.0 percent, followed by Lake, Ill. (9.8 percent), Passaic, N.J. (9.4 percent), and the counties of Santa Clara, Calif., and Anoka, Minn. (9.3 percent each).

Of the 342 largest counties, 10 experienced over-the-year decreases in average weekly wages. Midland, Texas, had the largest percentage decrease in average weekly wages, with a loss of 11.5 percent. Ector, Texas, had the second largest decrease in average weekly wages (-8.0 percent), followed by Lafayette, La. (-4.3 percent); Gregg, Texas (-3.2 percent); and San Mateo, Calif. (-2.3 percent).

Large county average weekly wages

Durham County ($1,278) and Mecklenburg County ($1,204) had the highest average weekly wages in North Carolina and ranked 40th and 57th, respectively, among the 342 large U.S. counties by wage level. Average weekly wages in the state’s remaining seven large counties were below the national average of $1,082 in the fourth quarter of 2015. Cumberland ($814) reported the lowest average weekly wage among the state’s large counties and ranked 320th nationwide.

Nationwide, average weekly wages were at or above the U.S. average ($1,082) in 101 of the 342 largest counties in the fourth quarter of 2015. Santa Clara, Calif., recorded the highest average weekly wage at $2,335, followed by New York, N.Y. ($2,235); San Mateo, Calif. ($2,095); San Francisco, Calif. ($1,961); and Suffolk Ma. ($1,943).

Among the largest U.S. counties, 241 had average weekly wages below the national average in the fourth quarter of 2015. Cameron County, Texas ($649), reported the lowest weekly wage, followed by the counties of Horry, S.C. ($653); Hidalgo, Texas ($661); Webb, Texas ($706); and Harrison, Miss. ($729).

Average weekly wages in North Carolina’s smaller counties

With the exception of Orange County ($1,094), all of the smaller counties in North Carolina, those with employment below 75,000, had average weekly wages lower than the national average of $1,082. Among these smaller counties, Iredell had the second-highest average weekly wage at $944, while Alleghany had the lowest at $591. (See table 2.)

When all 100 counties in North Carolina were considered, 14 reported average weekly wages below $650, 54 had wages from $650-$749, 23 had wages from $750-$849, and 9 had wages above $850. (See chart 1.)

Additional statistics and other information

QCEW data for states have been included in this release in table 3. For additional information about quarterly employment and wages data, please read the Technical Note or visit www.bls.gov/cew.

Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online features comprehensive information by detailed industry on establishments, employment, and wages for the nation and all states. The 2014 edition of this publication contains selected data produced by Business Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter 2015 version of the national news release. Tables and additional content from Employment and Wages Annual Averages 2014 are now available online at https://www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn14.htm. The 2015 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available in December 2016.

The County Employment and Wages release for first quarter 2016 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, September 7, 2016.


Technical Note

Average weekly wage data by county are compiled under the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program, also known as the ES-202 program. The data are derived from summaries of employment and total pay of workers covered by state and federal unemployment insurance (UI) legislation and provided by State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The 9.7 million employer reports cover 141.9 million full- and part-time workers. The average weekly wage values are calculated by dividing quarterly total wages by the average of the three monthly employment levels of those covered by UI programs. The result is then divided by 13, the number of weeks in a quarter. It is to be noted, therefore, that over-the-year wage changes for geographic areas may reflect shifts in the composition of employment by industry, occupation, and such other factors as hours of work. Thus, wages may vary among counties, metropolitan areas, or states for reasons other than changes in the average wage level. Data for all states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), counties, and the nation are available on the BLS Web site at www.bls.gov/cew/; however, data in QCEW press releases have been revised and may not match the data contained on the Bureau’s Web site.

QCEW data are not designed as a time series. QCEW data are simply the sums of individual establishment records reflecting the number of establishments that exist in a county or industry at a point in time. Establishments can move in or out of a county or industry for a number of reasons–some reflecting economic events, others reflecting administrative changes.

The preliminary QCEW data presented in this release may differ from data released by the individual states as well as from the data presented on the BLS Web site. These potential differences result from the states’ continuing receipt, review and editing of UI data over time. On the other hand, differences between data in this release and the data found on the BLS Web site are the result of adjustments made to improve over-the-year comparisons. Specifically, these adjustments account for administrative (noneconomic) changes such as a correction to a previously reported location or industry classification. Adjusting for these administrative changes allows users to more accurately assess changes of an economic nature (such as a firm moving from one county to another or changing its primary economic activity) over a 12-month period. Currently, adjusted data are available only from BLS press releases.

Information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (202) 691-5200; Federal Relay Service: (800) 877-8339.

Table 1. Covered employment and wages in the United States and the 9 largest counties in North Carolina, fourth quarter 2015
AreaEmploymentAverage weekly wage (1)
December 2015 (thousands)Percent change, December 2014-15 (2)National ranking by percent change (3)Average weekly wageNational ranking by level (3)Percent change, fourth quarter 2014-15 (2)National ranking by percent change (3)

United States (4)

141,924.51.9--$1,082--4.4--

North Carolina

4,247.12.5--939305.58

Buncombe, N.C.

127.73.4638413045.3127

Catawba, N.C.

85.32.21448363118.99

Cumberland, N.C.

119.70.72738143206.173

Durham, N.C.

194.83.8371,278404.2218

Forsyth, N.C.

183.41.12359761824.7175

Guilford, N.C.

281.11.91719302254.7175

Mecklenburg, N.C.

658.44.0331,204576.836

New Hanover, N.C.

107.32.81088662884.7175

Wake, N.C.

525.13.6511,0711084.2218

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Percent changes were computed from quarterly employment and pay data adjusted for noneconomic county reclassifications.
(3) Ranking does not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
(4) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
 

Note: Data are preliminary. Covered employment and wages includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.

 

Table 2. Covered employment and wages in the United States and all counties in North Carolina, fourth quarter 2015
AreaEmployment December 2015Average Weekly Wage (1)

United States (2)

141,924,459$1,082

North Carolina

4,247,050939

Alamance

59,594762

Alexander

9,027645

Alleghany

3,365591

Anson

7,559681

Ashe

7,043671

Avery

6,211623

Beaufort

15,917731

Bertie

6,516613

Bladen

12,924718

Brunswick

29,370758

Buncombe

127,696841

Burke

30,087723

Cabarrus

71,627807

Caldwell

23,813722

Camden

1,381810

Carteret

22,321669

Caswell

3,038675

Catawba

85,314836

Chatham

14,403736

Cherokee

7,823669

Chowan

4,635741

Clay

2,130673

Cleveland

34,057751

Columbus

15,670676

Craven

39,500833

Cumberland

119,732814

Currituck

5,742734

Dare

16,992660

Davidson

42,457762

Davie

12,231691

Duplin

20,169664

Durham

194,8121,278

Edgecombe

16,847712

Forsyth

183,426976

Franklin

11,755799

Gaston

71,944796

Gates

1,467728

Graham

1,906701

Granville

20,470840

Greene

4,168642

Guilford

281,064930

Halifax

15,885665

Harnett

23,951677

Haywood

17,070707

Henderson

36,019767

Hertford

9,106728

Hoke

8,134658

Hyde

1,967612

Iredell

70,705944

Jackson

12,789706

Johnston

46,962750

Jones

1,579710

Lee

25,674771

Lenoir

27,943733

Lincoln

22,125744

McDowell

16,265677

Macon

10,767659

Madison

3,770668

Martin

6,985601

Mecklenburg

658,4241,204

Mitchell

4,821662

Montgomery

9,218709

Moore

33,811798

Nash

41,632757

New Hanover

107,333866

Northampton

5,441711

Onslow

48,851663

Orange

67,9151,094

Pamlico

3,284600

Pasquotank

16,035724

Pender

10,735685

Perquimans

2,039649

Person

10,158751

Pitt

75,851873

Polk

4,933601

Randolph

44,514720

Richmond

13,638685

Robeson

39,801652

Rockingham

26,425711

Rowan

47,827805

Rutherford

18,421681

Sampson

18,421740

Scotland

11,989728

Stanly

19,066680

Stokes

6,924609

Surry

28,799687

Swain

10,046704

Transylvania

8,443673

Tyrrell

1,103633

Union

60,350849

Vance

14,953680

Wake

525,1041,071

Warren

3,413622

Washington

3,520782

Watauga

22,516715

Wayne

42,639729

Wilkes

21,695704

Wilson

37,580814

Yadkin

10,011671

Yancey

3,692629

Footnotes
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
 

NOTE: Includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs. Data are preliminary.

 

Table 3. Covered employment and wages by state, fourth quarter 2015
StateEmploymentAverage weekly wage (1)
December 2015 (thousands)Percent change, December 2014-15Average weekly wageNational ranking by levelPercent change, fourth quarter 2014-15National ranking by percent change

United States (2)

141,924.51.9$1,082--4.4--

Alabama

1,916.21.4912373.437

Alaska

315.9-0.51,095132.943

Arizona

2,701.82.6967244.428

Arkansas

1,201.41.7838463.835

California

16,593.83.11,27455.410

Colorado

2,537.52.51,103113.340

Connecticut

1,685.10.31,33444.329

Delaware

441.21.81,086153.437

District of Columbia

754.22.21,75613.437

Florida

8,308.13.7958265.216

Georgia

4,249.42.91,001214.527

Hawaii

653.02.2957275.410

Idaho

670.13.4803502.645

Illinois

5,931.21.41,14685.118

Indiana

2,996.31.7891405.314

Iowa

1,539.00.7920345.73

Kansas

1,382.10.4898385.020

Kentucky

1,881.31.6885415.91

Louisiana

1,937.4-1.0940291.847

Maine

596.90.7873435.73

Maryland

2,636.71.71,17575.65

Massachusetts

3,479.11.61,38525.410

Michigan

4,218.91.51,043185.91

Minnesota

2,805.81.51,073164.822

Mississippi

1,133.81.3770513.141

Missouri

2,759.61.8933334.625

Montana

453.22.5818493.042

Nebraska

971.81.4880425.118

Nevada

1,272.23.5935324.031

New Hampshire

648.61.71,13995.410

New Jersey

3,988.41.71,26264.031

New Mexico

808.9-0.1865441.847

New York

9,227.61.71,37233.934

North Carolina

4,247.12.5939305.58

North Dakota

428.1-5.91,02120-2.851

Ohio

5,328.81.2964254.625

Oklahoma

1,605.0-0.7896392.346

Oregon

1,814.83.3979235.58

Pennsylvania

5,759.70.71,063174.921

Rhode Island

478.11.51,043184.031

South Carolina

1,987.12.8860455.314

South Dakota

417.71.2832475.216

Tennessee

2,898.12.8980225.65

Texas

11,832.11.41,099122.744

Utah

1,375.63.8913364.723

Vermont

312.10.3919354.130

Virginia

3,806.23.01,094143.536

Washington

3,137.22.31,132104.723

West Virginia

703.7-1.3829481.349

Wisconsin

2,820.51.1944285.65

Wyoming

276.0-2.993731-1.750

Puerto Rico

929.9-1.6565(3)1.6(3)

Virgin Islands

38.4-0.3787(3)4.7(3)

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Totals for the United States do not include data for Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.
(3) Data not included in the national ranking.
 

Note: Data are preliminary. Covered employment and wages includes workers covered by Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) programs.

 

Last Modified Date: Thursday, June 23, 2016