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21-1008-ATL
Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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Technical information:
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  • (404) 893-4220

County Employment and Wages in North Carolina — Fourth Quarter 2020

Employment declined in all of North Carolina’s 12 largest counties from December 2019 to December 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. (Large counties are those with annual average employment levels of 75,000 or more in 2019.) Regional Commissioner Janet S. Rankin noted that employment decreases ranged from 6.7 percent in Buncombe County to 0.6 percent in Iredell County. (See chart 1 and table 1.)


National employment decreased 6.1 percent over the year, with 352 of the 357 largest U.S. counties reporting declines. Maui + Kalawao, HI, had the largest over-the-year decrease in employment with a loss of 22.8 percent. Utah, UT, experienced the largest over-the-year percentage increase in employment with a gain of 3.8 percent.

Among the 12 largest counties in North Carolina, employment was highest in Mecklenburg County (711,000) in December 2020. Within Mecklenburg County’s private industry, finance and insurance accounted for the largest employment. Together, the 12 largest North Carolina counties accounted for 59.5 percent of total employment within the state. Nationwide, the 357 largest counties made up 73.1 percent of total U.S. employment.

Employment and wage levels (but not over-the-year changes) are also available for the 88 counties in North Carolina with employment below 75,000. Wage levels in all 88 smaller counties were below the national average in the fourth quarter of 2020. (See table 2.)

Large county wage changes

All 12 large North Carolina counties reported average weekly wage gains from the fourth quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020. (See chart 2.) Three counties had rates of wage gains that were above the national rate of 13.0 percent. New Hanover County had the largest gain (+21.4 percent), followed by Iredell County (+16.3 percent) and Catawba County (+14.2 percent). Over-the-year wage gains among North Carolina’s other nine large counties ranged from 12.3 percent to 8.1 percent.


Among the 357 largest counties in the United States, 356 had over-the-year wage increases. Nationally, across most industries, increases in average weekly wages reflect substantial employment declines combined with wage increases. The lowest paying industry, leisure and hospitality, had the largest employment loss, which results in higher average weekly wages for the industry and the nation. San Francisco, CA, had the largest percentage wage increase (+44.3 percent). Ector, TX, had the only over-the-year percentage decrease (-7.5 percent).

Large county average weekly wages

Weekly wages in the 2 of the 12 largest counties in North Carolina were above the national average of $1,339 in the fourth quarter of 2020. Average weekly wages in Durham ($1,602, 33rd) and Mecklenburg ($1,453, 59th) ranked among the top 75 nationwide.

Among the largest U.S. counties, 89 reported average weekly wages above the U.S. average in the fourth quarter of 2020. Santa Clara, CA, had the highest average weekly wage at $3,690. Average weekly wages were below the national average in the remaining 268 counties. At $760 a week, Cameron, TX, had the lowest average weekly wage.

Average weekly wages in North Carolina’s smaller counties

All 88 smaller counties in North Carolina—those with employment below 75,000—had average weekly wages below the national average of $1,339. Among these smaller counties, Orange had the highest average weekly wage at $1,335. Tyrrell County ($695) had the lowest average weekly wage in the state.

When all 100 counties in North Carolina were considered, 23 reported average weekly wages of $799 or lower, 46 registered wages from $800 to $899, 16 had wages from $900 to $999, 8 had wages from $1,000 to $1,099, and 7 had average weekly wages of $1,100 or higher. (See chart 3.)

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 2019 edition of this publication was published in September 2020. Tables and additional content from the 2019 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online are available at www.bls.gov/cew/publications/employment-and-wages-annual-averages/2019/home.htm. The 2020 edition of Employment and Wages Annual Averages Online will be available in September 2021.

The County Employment and Wages release for first quarter 2021 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (ET). The County Employment and Wages full data update for first quarter 2021 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. (ET).

QCEW Imputation Issue Caused by Pandemic-Related Challenges

In the spring of 2020, BLS modified its imputation process for QCEW to be more responsive to current economic conditions. While continuing work to improve this process, BLS made an unintended data processing error. This error affected data for the second, third, and fourth quarters of 2020. BLS has analyzed this issue and has determined that the impact on QCEW employment was negligible at the statewide level. In smaller areas and industries, revisions may be larger than usual. Wage data were not affected. Following the usual QCEW practice, these data will be revised and corrected with the full data update on September 1, 2021.

For more information on QCEW imputation methodology, see www.bls.gov/cew/additional-resources/imputation-methodology.htm.


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 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 individuals with sensory impairments 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 12 largest counties in North Carolina, fourth quarter 2020
AreaEstablishments,
fourth quarter 2020
(thousands)
EmploymentAverage weekly wage (1)
December 2020
(thousands)
Percent change,
December 2019–20 (2)
National ranking
by percent change (3)
Fourth quarter
2020
National ranking
by level (3)
Percent change,
fourth quarter 2019–20 (2)
National ranking
by percent change (3)

United States (4)

10,675.8140,881.3-6.1--$1,339--13.0--

North Carolina

301.74,431.0-2.7--1,1522911.239

Buncombe

10.4126.9-6.72121,02431411.3230

Cabarrus

5.377.7-1.51896234012.3182

Catawba

4.686.2-2.8491,00832014.281

Cumberland

6.6116.8-5.113497033512.0195

Durham

9.2216.0-2.5411,6023311.6214

Forsyth

9.8186.6-4.0831,1312248.1330

Guilford

15.2279.3-3.7711,0892579.4309

Iredell

5.877.2-0.691,14021516.334

Mecklenburg

42.0711.0-2.7461,4535910.2282

New Hanover

9.1115.8-3.5651,13322021.45

Pitt

4.075.6-3.7711,01631711.2233

Wake

39.4567.4-2.1281,3219710.4272

Footnotes:
(1) Average weekly wages were calculated using unrounded data.
(2) Percent changes were computed from 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 2020
AreaEmployment December 2020Average weekly wage(1)

United States(2)

140,881,253$1,339

North Carolina

4,430,9861,152

Alamance

61,121967

Alexander

8,933799

Alleghany

3,066739

Anson

6,863798

Ashe

7,174826

Avery

6,576779

Beaufort

15,761839

Bertie

5,736746

Bladen

13,422779

Brunswick

33,178886

Buncombe

126,9351,024

Burke

28,941844

Cabarrus

77,680962

Caldwell

25,474880

Camden

1,222859

Carteret

22,706814

Caswell

2,764835

Catawba

86,2491,008

Chatham

15,040895

Cherokee

7,680768

Chowan

4,659881

Clay

1,985737

Cleveland

34,527905

Columbus

15,173805

Craven

38,9581,035

Cumberland

116,820970

Currituck

6,344796

Dare

16,549815

Davidson

43,717936

Davie

12,920893

Duplin

18,496815

Durham

215,9871,602

Edgecombe

15,934851

Forsyth

186,5541,131

Franklin

12,0351,007

Gaston

72,254917

Gates

1,504930

Graham

1,851822

Granville

20,446987

Greene

4,473798

Guilford

279,2841,089

Halifax

14,658787

Harnett

25,422814

Haywood

17,091849

Henderson

39,773915

Hertford

8,735883

Hoke

8,607790

Hyde

1,644726

Iredell

77,2181,140

Jackson

13,664905

Johnston

52,624921

Jones

1,608788

Lee

25,044929

Lenoir

28,318886

Lincoln

24,574937

McDowell

15,381815

Macon

11,317807

Madison

3,925788

Martin

6,435713

Mecklenburg

711,0181,453

Mitchell

4,590822

Montgomery

9,003883

Moore

35,579974

Nash

38,741914

New Hanover

115,7771,133

Northampton

5,502824

Onslow

49,412827

Orange

69,5521,335

Pamlico

3,263721

Pasquotank

14,806879

Pender

12,906815

Perquimans

2,200768

Person

9,455887

Pitt

75,6411,016

Polk

4,978750

Randolph

43,169854

Richmond

13,338801

Robeson

37,764819

Rockingham

23,867791

Rowan

47,3531,005

Rutherford

17,859801

Sampson

17,371849

Scotland

11,181876

Stanly

18,652831

Stokes

7,620733

Surry

27,452863

Swain

9,585841

Transylvania

8,888832

Tyrrell

973695

Union

63,9771,016

Vance

13,599831

Wake

567,4321,321

Warren

2,991748

Washington

3,093857

Watauga

23,357822

Wayne

40,557876

Wilkes

20,247831

Wilson

36,232965

Yadkin

9,633840

Yancey

4,215849

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 2020
StateEstablishments,
fourth quarter 2020
(thousands)
EmploymentAverage weekly wage (1)
December 2020
(thousands)
Percent change,
December 2019–20
Fourth quarter
2020
National ranking
by level
Percent change,
fourth quarter 2019–20
National ranking
by percent change

United States (2)

10,675.8140,881.3-6.1$1,339--13.0--

Alabama

134.61,951.2-2.91,0963511.436

Alaska

23.1290.1-6.41,2601710.644

Arizona

173.92,908.7-3.31,2142214.69

Arkansas

94.61,194.8-3.29994911.436

California

1,660.216,380.1-8.31,724318.51

Colorado

219.62,613.7-5.71,3781012.325

Connecticut

126.81,578.4-6.51,551612.227

Delaware

35.1432.9-5.21,2621611.338

District of Columbia

43.8713.0-8.92,293115.26

Florida

765.48,642.8-5.01,1802413.117

Georgia

319.74,405.9-4.01,2082310.942

Hawaii

47.3561.1-16.11,2192116.04

Idaho

71.8763.50.81,0344712.821

Illinois

386.35,573.8-7.81,3781013.018

Indiana

173.12,985.1-4.01,0763911.239

Iowa

105.61,494.3-4.31,0993411.632

Kansas

89.91,346.9-4.51,0704011.534

Kentucky

130.41,839.6-4.81,0574210.843

Louisiana

140.81,796.9-7.01,078388.648

Maine

55.4594.3-4.31,0923614.510

Maryland

174.52,546.1-6.71,445813.616

Massachusetts

266.73,365.8-8.31,766217.03

Michigan

265.33,998.2-8.91,2571912.821

Minnesota

186.42,684.1-7.91,3221312.325

Mississippi

76.11,119.1-2.49015110.445

Missouri

221.52,724.4-4.31,1273311.632

Montana

54.6467.4-1.41,0354512.723

Nebraska

72.5962.7-2.91,0793711.534

Nevada

90.21,283.1-10.71,1782514.411

New Hampshire

57.1637.3-5.21,406917.92

New Jersey

291.03,860.5-7.21,517713.915

New Mexico

64.8767.1-9.51,0524311.829

New York

662.48,693.4-10.31,712414.213

North Carolina

301.74,431.0-2.71,1522911.239

North Dakota

32.6394.4-7.11,136314.750

Ohio

307.35,199.9-5.11,1612712.028

Oklahoma

113.61,569.1-4.41,013487.349

Oregon

167.31,824.3-7.51,2562014.213

Pennsylvania

370.55,549.4-7.41,2871512.624

Rhode Island

40.7449.6-8.31,2591814.77

South Carolina

149.22,074.4-3.51,0354511.141

South Dakota

35.5422.8-1.91,0484414.411

Tennessee

176.23,002.5-2.71,1722611.730

Texas

743.112,251.1-4.31,294149.047

Utah

117.91,557.80.61,1542812.920

Vermont

26.6286.1-8.91,1333214.77

Virginia

289.83,796.1-4.71,3601213.018

Washington

259.73,219.7-6.81,589516.04

West Virginia

51.9654.1-5.39975010.346

Wisconsin

184.22,762.5-4.81,1403011.730

Wyoming

27.7260.2-5.31,061414.651

Puerto Rico

46.0873.8-4.0621(3)8.0(3)

Virgin Islands

3.535.3-11.51,057(3)-1.3(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 16, 2021