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News Release Information

17-911-ATL
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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Technical information:
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  • (404) 893-4220

County Employment and Wages in North Carolina – Fourth Quarter 2016

Employment increased in all of North Carolina’s nine large counties from December 2015 to December 2016, 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 2015 annual average employment.) Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that employment increases ranged from 3.2 percent in Wake County to 0.1 percent in Cumberland County. (See table 1.)

Nationally, employment advanced 1.2 percent from December 2015 to December 2016 as 280 of the 344 largest U.S. counties had increases. Williamson, Tenn., had the largest percentage increase, up 5.1 percent over the year. Lafayette, La., had the largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment, with a loss of 5.1 percent.

Among the nine largest counties in North Carolina, employment was highest in Mecklenburg County (674,200) in December 2016, while Catawba County had the smallest employment level (87,300). Together, North Carolina’s large counties accounted for 53.9 percent of total employment within the state. Nationwide, the 344 largest counties made up 72.8 percent of total U.S. employment, which stood at 143.7 million in December 2016.

Eight of North Carolina’s 9 large counties had over-the-year wage decreases in December 2016, with the largest decline in Guilford County (-3.1 percent). Only Wake County had an increase in average weekly wages, up 0.7 percent over-the-year. Durham County had the highest weekly wage among the state’s largest counties at $1,254, followed by Mecklenburg ($1,193) and Wake ($1,085). Nationally, the average weekly wage declined 1.5 percent over the year to $1,067 in the fourth quarter of 2016. (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 ($1,101), wage levels in all of these smaller counties were below the U.S. average in December 2016. (See table 2.)

Large county wage changes

As noted, average weekly wages decreased in eight of the nine large counties in North Carolina from the fourth quarter of 2015 to the fourth quarter of 2016. The wage losses in three of the state’s large counties placed in the bottom half of the national ranking—Guilford (-3.1 percent, 275th), Forsyth (-2.2 percent, 223rd), and Cumberland (-1.8 percent, 183rd). (See table 1.)

Nationally, 290 of the 344 largest counties had over-the-year wage decreases. McLean, Ill., had the largest percentage wage decrease among the largest U.S. counties (-9.2 percent). Clay, Mo., was second with a wage decrease of -8.3 percent, followed by Lafayette, La. (-8.0 percent); Douglas, Colo. (-6.8 percent); and Passaic, N.J. (-6.0 percent).

Of the 344 largest counties, 48 had over-the-year increases in average weekly wages. Clayton, Ga., had the largest percentage increase in average weekly wages (11.3 percent), followed by Washington, Pa. (4.9 percent); Marin, Calif. (4.3 percent); Elkhart, Ind. (4.0 percent); and San Francisco, Calif. and Champaign, Ill. (3.7 percent each).

Large county average weekly wages

Average weekly wages in three of North Carolina’s nine large counties placed in the top quarter of the national ranking in the fourth quarter of 2016. The highest paid counties—Durham, Mecklenburg, and Wake—had average weekly wages above the U.S average of $1,067 and ranked in the top 85 nationwide. Average weekly wages in the state’s six remaining large counties placed in the bottom half of the national ranking.

Nationwide, average weekly wages were at or above the U.S. average ($1,067) in 101 of the 344 largest counties in the fourth quarter of 2016. Santa Clara, Calif., had the highest average weekly wage at $2,365, followed by New York, N.Y. ($2,212); San Mateo, Calif. ($2,098); and San Francisco, Calif. ($2,068).

Among the largest U.S. counties, 243 had average weekly wages below the national average in the fourth quarter of 2016. Cameron, Texas ($640), reported the lowest weekly wage, followed by the counties of Hidalgo, Texas ($648); Horry, S.C. ($654); and Webb, Texas ($683).

Average weekly wages in North Carolina’s smaller counties

With the exception of Orange County ($1,101), all of the smaller counties in North Carolina—those with employment below 75,000—had average weekly wages lower than the national average of $1,067. Among these smaller counties, Iredell had the second-highest average weekly wage at $893, followed by Pitt at $854. Clay County and Pamlico County each had an average weekly wage of $591, the lowest in the state. (See table 2.)

When all 100 counties in North Carolina were considered, 16 had average weekly wages below $650, 56 had wages from $650 to $749, 19 had wages from $750 to $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 2015 edition of this publication, which was published in September 2016, contains selected data produced by Business Employment Dynamics (BED) on job gains and losses, as well as selected data from the first quarter 2016 version of the national news release. Tables and additional content from the 2015 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages are now available online at www.bls.gov/cew/cewbultn15.htm. The 2016 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available in September 2017.

The County Employment and Wages release for first quarter 2017 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.

Upcoming Industry Changes to QCEW Data

Beginning with the release of first quarter 2017 data, the program will switch to the 2017 version of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) as the basis for the assignment and tabulation of economic data by industry. For more information on the change, please see the Federal Register notice at www.census.gov/eos/www/naics/federal_register_notices/notices/fr08au16.pdf.


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 9.9 million employer reports cover 143.7 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 2016
AreaEmploymentAverage weekly wage (1)
December 2016 (thousands)Percent change, December 2015-16 (2)National ranking by percent change (3)Average weekly wageNational ranking by level (3)Percent change, fourth quarter 2015-16 (2)National ranking by percent change (3)

United States (4)

143,749.91.2--$1,067---1.5--

North Carolina

4,326.31.8--93228-0.713

Buncombe, N.C.

130.33.132837302-0.795

Catawba, N.C.

87.33.132818310-1.3144

Cumberland, N.C.

120.40.1268799320-1.8183

Durham, N.C.

198.71.21721,25439-1.6168

Forsyth, N.C.

184.80.4250953183-2.2223

Guilford, N.C.

283.90.8211898243-3.1275

Mecklenburg, N.C.

674.22.1981,19356-0.795

New Hanover, N.C.

110.52.758865276-0.260

Wake, N.C.

541.53.2281,085850.725

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 2016
AreaEmployment December 2016Average Weekly Wage(1)

United States(2)

143,749,910$1,067

North Carolina

4,326,302932

Alamance

61,583762

Alexander

8,994644

Alleghany

3,166600

Anson

7,244646

Ashe

7,282675

Avery

6,439621

Beaufort

16,425707

Bertie

6,275613

Bladen

12,886688

Brunswick

30,384737

Buncombe

130,323837

Burke

29,597710

Cabarrus

77,738802

Caldwell

24,674724

Camden

1,414719

Carteret

22,696659

Caswell

3,039657

Catawba

87,283818

Chatham

14,683743

Cherokee

8,051640

Chowan

4,605718

Clay

1,977591

Cleveland

34,882762

Columbus

15,564675

Craven

40,090843

Cumberland

120,383799

Currituck

5,854701

Dare

16,477666

Davidson

43,848766

Davie

12,804685

Duplin

20,180655

Durham

198,6661,254

Edgecombe

16,869701

Forsyth

184,785953

Franklin

11,844793

Gaston

71,207760

Gates

1,508669

Graham

1,947651

Granville

21,209834

Greene

4,220668

Guilford

283,907898

Halifax

15,813659

Harnett

25,105695

Haywood

17,319697

Henderson

37,120756

Hertford

9,157691

Hoke

8,469665

Hyde

1,752634

Iredell

72,417893

Jackson

13,241711

Johnston

47,237762

Jones

1,725712

Lee

26,485764

Lenoir

28,129724

Lincoln

22,576772

McDowell

16,000687

Macon

10,987674

Madison

3,846651

Martin

7,139602

Mecklenburg

674,2131,193

Mitchell

4,730664

Montgomery

9,409688

Moore

35,339775

Nash

41,194749

New Hanover

110,521865

Northampton

5,376679

Onslow

48,138679

Orange

71,6321,101

Pamlico

3,253591

Pasquotank

15,873708

Pender

11,275682

Perquimans

2,104639

Person

10,213740

Pitt

76,477854

Polk

5,034599

Randolph

45,347701

Richmond

13,593669

Robeson

39,318664

Rockingham

26,705675

Rowan

47,561812

Rutherford

18,349668

Sampson

18,349714

Scotland

11,775713

Stanly

19,223677

Stokes

7,172597

Surry

28,545680

Swain

10,000666

Transylvania

8,686683

Tyrrell

1,111638

Union

62,615842

Vance

15,374677

Wake

541,4771,085

Warren

3,234603

Washington

3,404739

Watauga

23,696704

Wayne

42,471719

Wilkes

22,270669

Wilson

37,367804

Yadkin

10,159660

Yancey

3,750620

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 2016
StateEmploymentAverage weekly wage (1)
December 2016 (thousands)Percent change, December 2015-16Average weekly wageNational ranking by levelPercent change, fourth quarter 2015-16National ranking by percent change

United States (2)

143,749.91.2$1,067---1.5--

Alabama

1,932.60.790135-1.321

Alaska

310.0-1.91,03817-5.251

Arizona

2,760.12.194525-2.234

Arkansas

1,205.40.482747-1.422

California

16,923.31.91,2715-0.34

Colorado

2,588.62.01,08612-1.524

Connecticut

1,685.50.01,2894-3.446

Delaware

441.2-0.11,05515-2.944

District of Columbia

760.90.51,76310.62

Florida

8,538.92.794227-1.828

Georgia

4,349.32.499320-0.914

Hawaii

658.30.795424-0.34

Idaho

691.63.280050-0.48

Illinois

5,947.60.41,1229-231

Indiana

3,021.70.988338-0.914

Iowa

1,542.00.191133-116

Kansas

1,384.50.187739-2.234

Kentucky

1,894.20.687441-1.422

Louisiana

1,907.4-1.691432-2.944

Maine

602.60.885543-2.133

Maryland

2,666.71.01,1697-0.48

Massachusetts

3,530.41.31,3522-2.439

Michigan

4,283.01.51,02619-1.625

Minnesota

2,839.71.21,06214-1.118

Mississippi

1,134.00.075651-1.828

Missouri

2,783.20.991831-1.727

Montana

456.50.7822480.53

Nebraska

972.40.087640-0.510

Nevada

1,307.82.792429-1.220

New Hampshire

656.91.31,09210-4.148

New Jersey

4,042.11.41,2396-1.930

New Mexico

811.40.084445-2.541

New York

9,332.51.21,3423-2.336

North Carolina

4,326.31.893228-0.713

North Dakota

414.4-3.297821-4.249

Ohio

5,365.60.794326-2.336

Oklahoma

1,587.7-1.286442-3.547

Oregon

1,860.72.497022-116

Pennsylvania

5,799.80.71,03916-2.336

Rhode Island

478.30.01,02718-1.625

South Carolina

2,024.31.885543-0.612

South Dakota

419.90.582846-0.510

Tennessee

2,947.51.897022-1.118

Texas

11,974.71.21,07213-2.541

Utah

1,415.12.991034-0.34

Vermont

312.60.189736-2.439

Virginia

3,831.60.61,09111-0.34

Washington

3,227.92.81,15081.71

West Virginia

693.1-1.680949-2.541

Wisconsin

2,842.40.592429-231

Wyoming

265.8-3.989437-4.750

Puerto Rico

928.2-0.3555(3)-1.9(3)

Virgin Islands

38.50.2769(3)-1.8(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: Wednesday, June 28, 2017