New QCEW Data from LEAD for Everyone, Including WDBs

Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Jeff Rosenthal

Recently, the Labor and Economic Analysis Division (LEAD) of NC Commerce released the latest Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) data.  This data is from Quarter 2 of 2018, and represents one of the best sources of economic data for North Carolina and its smaller regions, including Workforce Development Boards (WDBs).   This entry will show how one can make comparisons amongst WDBs by using the Data Driven Data Delivery System (D4).*


We find that between 2Q2017 and 2Q2018, some of the largest regions also showed the greatest percentage growth in establishments.  The top 5 in number and percentage growth in establishments include:

Region #Growth Region %Growth
Capital Area (Johnston, Wake) 1,324 Cape Fear (Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender) 3.8%
Charlotte Works (Mecklenburg) 1,216 Capital Area (Johnston, Wake) 3.5%
Cape Fear (Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender) 498 Charlotte Works (Mecklenburg) 3.3%
Centralina (Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Stanly, Union) 331 Southwestern (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain) 3.2%
Mountain Area (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Transylvania) 257 Durham County 2.0%


The number growth is likely not surprising, as these are represented by some of our largest metro areas (Raleigh and Durham, Charlotte, Wilmington, and Asheville), but the interesting addition to this list is the percentage growth of the far western part of our state.


While the number of businesses themselves tell us about the landscape of organizations, for most of us, it’s the actual number of jobs that are yielded from these establishments that matter for our own livelihoods and the livelihoods of our neighbors.  The top 5 in number and percentage growth in employment include:

Region #Net New Jobs
Capital Area (Johnston, Wake) 21,032
Charlotte Works (Mecklenburg) 14,782
Durham County 5,533
Regional Partnership (Alamance, Montgomery, Moore, Orange, Randolph) 5,471
Centralina (Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Stanly, Union) 4,927


The employment patterns aren’t too different than the establishment patterns- with the two largest WDBs also showing the largest numerical growth. 

From first glance, the WDBs in the Triangle area appear to be adding more jobs than those in the Charlotte area.  The Regional Partnership is largely outside the Triangle, even though one of its counties (Orange) holds one of the points of the Triangle (Chapel Hill).  That said, if we look at the difference in employment from 2Q2017-2Q2018 within the Regional Partnership, we find that each of the counties, except Montgomery, contributes to growth in new jobs (2,801).

It also appears that the Western part of the state from Asheville westward has seen growth over the past year, though the types of companies and employment vary between the WDBs.  For the Mountain Area WDB (Asheville area), the growth largely comes from Manufacturing (844), Construction (803), and Health Care & Social Assistance (785), with the fastest growth in Construction (9.6%).  For the Southwestern WDB, the growth comes from Accommodation & Food Services (422), Arts, Entertainment, & Recreation (385), and Retail Trade (357), with the fastest growth from Wholesale Trade (14.9%).  These differences could reflect regional strengths in particular industries.  The Mountain Area WDB’s growth in Manufacturing stems from different types of manufacturing, especially in Electrical Equipment, Appliance, and Components (+316), Fabricated Metal Products (+161) and Food (+141). The area has also seen solid population growth, and with the Southwestern WDB, has seen growth in Leisure & Hospitality. 

Finally, the growth in the Cape Fear WDB, which includes Wilmington, is driven by Construction (1,751), Accommodation & Food Services (1,053), and Retail Trade (719), with the fastest growth from Construction (18.0%).  This likely reflects regional population growth this decade.

Interested in learning about your area?  Below shows how I got my statistics.  All you have to do is select your geography (and/or industries) of interest.  Happy data hunting!

Getting the Data

We can easily learn about business and employment growth across the state with this data.  First, we select the geographies of interest (located on the left)- in this case each of the Workforce Development Boards. Next, we select the ‘Total’ Industry (NAICS=000000), and the data: establishments and average employment, we can see which areas grew over the past year (select 2017 and 2018 Quarter 2). Warning: you’ll have to do your own subtraction to identify the growth between 2017 and 2018, and divide this difference by the value in 2017 to get the percentage growth.  Can’t say you didn’t know math would be involved!

*Apologies for the acronyms we use in ‘government soup’.  What does an ACRONYM stand for?  Please consult with this.