North Carolina Employment Projections to 2026

Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Oleksandr Movchan

Every two years, in conjunction with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the North Carolina Department of Commerce publishes 10-year industry and occupation employment projections for statewide and sub-state areas.

The employment projections are an estimate of the future demand for workers based on historical employment data and various economic factors, and provide information for policy makers, job seekers, training providers, and businesses to make informed workforce decisions and help ensure that North Carolina’s workforce is prepared for tomorrow’s job opportunities and economic growth in the state.

The following summary analyzes information on employment growth and projections at the state level and provides key findings by major industry and occupational groups.

Key Highlights of the 2026 Employment Projections:

  • North Carolina is projected to add more than 389,000 new jobs between 2017 and 2026.
  • The service-providing sector in North Carolina is projected to contribute more than 90% of all net new jobs created.
  • Health Care and Social Assistance, NC’s largest industry by employment, is projected to be the fastest and highest growing, with 93,000 new jobs (16.1%) added.
  • The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services industry is second in terms of growth rate (15.4%), with more than 36,000 new jobs created by 2026.
  • Projections for the Manufacturing industry show a decline of 2.2% losing over 10,000 jobs in the next 9 years.
  • Healthcare Support Occupations and Computer and Mathematical Occupations are projected to be the two fastest growing occupational groups.
  • Production Occupations are projected to lose 5,000 jobs by 2026 following a declining trend in the Manufacturing industry.
  • Job openings due to separations of existing employees will provide significantly more opportunities for job seekers than openings from new growth. For each new job created each year, there will be more than 12 vacancies available due to occupational transfers and exits.
  • Despite the overall decline, Production Occupations will be ranked fifth in terms of job openings available each year (39,000) due to occupational separations.
  • Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations, Office and Administrative Support Occupations, and Sales and Related Occupations will have the largest number of annual job openings – more than 70,000 each.
  • The share of occupations requiring no formal educational or high school diploma is projected to shrink from 62.7% to 62.0% statewide over the next 9 years; however, they are projected to produce the most job openings, mostly due to high separation rates.
  • Jobs in occupations that paid over $75,000 are projected to grow faster than those that paid under $30,000. However, the increased number of net new jobs from today’s low-paying occupations are projected to outnumber the increase in high-paying ones by a ratio of nearly 2.4 to 1, since there are far more jobs at the bottom end of the pay scale

For a full detailed projections summary and data, see