While the Wilmington region isn’t expected to add the most jobs in the state in the coming years, the area is projected to become the fastest-growing region for job creation, based on its average annual growth rate.
That’s according to a report from the N.C. Department of Commerce that took a look at job sector projections for 16 areas across the state between 2017 and 2026.
A summary of that data by a state analyst in June said that growth was projected for all 16 regions defined in the report. The Wilmington region included New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.
Overall, the state is projected to add more than 389,000 new jobs between 2017 and 2026.
The Wilmington region is projected to add nearly 24,000 new jobs in that timeframe for an estimated workforce of nearly 191,000. In comparison, Charlotte is expected to add nearly 131,800 jobs, reaching 1.3 million by 2026. And Raleigh is projected to add almost 96,000 jobs, bringing its total to nearly 1.2 million in that same timeframe.
But in the report, Wilmington topped the list of metro areas in terms of growth rates.
The area’s projected average annual growth rate is 1.5%, while Charlotte came in second with a rate of nearly 1.2%, followed by Raleigh at about 1%.
The state’s summary called for flat growth for the Rocky Mount-Wilson area, which came in last among the 16 areas.
In all regions, three job sectors are projected to grow: real estate, rental and leasing; health care and social assistance; and accommodation/food service, stated the summary.
For those sectors in the Wilmington area, real estate is projected to grow by 1.3% on average each year, health care and social assistance by 1.9% and the accommodation/food service sector by nearly 1.7%.
“It seems to correlate with some of the trends we’re seeing in the southeast region, primarily that health care is growing as a business and job sector, that modest manufacturing job growth is occurring in parts of the region and construction activity is heaviest around the metro areas – Wilmington and Fayetteville,” Steve Yost, president of North Carolina’s Southeast, said about the findings.
North Carolina’s Southeast covers economic development efforts for an 18-county region, including New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.
The state’s summary, however, indicated a potential dip in manufacturing jobs coming up in North Carolina, shedding 10,000 jobs and dropping on average 2.2% annually between 2017 and 2026. In the Wilmington area, however, manufacturing is projected to grow by 0.8%, adding more than 550 jobs over the period.
Construction jobs locally are projected to grow by nearly 1.7% annually.
Much of that growth is tied to a larger, statewide growth trend in the service-producing sector, according to the state’s summary.
Wilmington-area sectors that showed a forecast of more than 2% annual growth were management of companies and enterprises; administrative and support and waste management and remediation services; and educational services, the summary stated.
Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development, said that the report’s highlights show a growing diversity in regional jobs. WBD focuses on economic development efforts in New Hanover and Pender counties.
“The strength of our goods-producing sector speaks to the broad array of advanced manufacturers here – from food and fiber optics to energy and aviation components. These operations deploy a spectrum of workers and, because of their supply-chain inputs, ripple a strong economic impact,” Satterfield said in an email.
The summary states modest growth is anticipated statewide in the goods-producing industries, and in several regions, a decline. Wilmington’s outlook, however, had projected gains in that sector of about 2,000 jobs.
The region’s service industries also received recognition in the report, Satterfield said.
“No longer is service employment equated with restaurant and housekeeping work. We’re talking about high value-add positions in clinical trials, corporate services, specialty medical care and C-suite management,” Satterfield said.
“But the state’s projections also highlight the importance of our hospitality sector,” he added, “which provides an entry point into the workforce for many of our residents and offer management possibilities that come with an impressive level of career mobility.”