Low-wage work in North Carolina has seen many fluctuations that differ by region, climate, transportation network, and economic activity. These geographic trends impact the access to and availability of resources and affordable lifestyles. Therefore, it is important to consider this access a geographic component of economic activity, and to understand changes occurring from past to present to future. The map and bubble chart below aim to aid discovery of how these trends differ across North Carolina counties.

How have low-wage jobs changed over time?

More urban counties have seen a percent increase (Wake, +9%) or minimal percent decline in low-wage jobs (New Hanover, -1%), substantiating our understanding of the growth of low-wage jobs in urban areas as a decade-long trend. Please scroll down below the map for additional information.

It is important to note that an 80% decrease in low-wage jobs in a rural area like Scotland County (with total employment of roughly 10,000 jobs) makes a much smaller impact than a percentage increase in a highly populated urban area like Wake County (with a total 520,000 jobs). When looking at the actual numbers, Scotland County lost 2,714 low-wage jobs between 2002 and 2011, whereas Wake County gained 10,247 low-wage jobs. When looking at the change in low-wage jobs over time, please take note of total employment figures.

What is the future of employment growth in low-wage industries?

Significant changes in low-wage employment are expected across the state through 2020, as indicated by the interactive diagram below. The visualization grows from the center, where we see the lowest number of projected new jobs, to the outer rings, where greater projected growth in low-wage industry jobs (by county) is represented.  

Explore projected employment change in various low-wage industries and NC counties using the filters.  Hover over any bubble to see the number of new jobs projected into 2020. Each color represents a different low-wage industry and each bubble represents a certain industry in a specific county.