What’s the Fastest Growing Industry Sector in NC between 1990 and 2020?

Monday, October 18, 2021
Author: 
Jamie Vaughn

A recently published article reviewed employment growth in North Carolina between 1990 and 2020 using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) accessible via D4.nccommerce.com.  This analysis showed that statewide annual average employment increased 40% over the 30-year period.  Also, several industry sectors showed significant growth while others decreased.

NC Employment Growth by Industry Sector, 1990 to 2020

Source: Generated by LEAD using QCEW data, Statewide 1990 & 2020 Annual
 

The industry sector (2-digit NACIS) with the largest percentage increase in employment over the 1990-2020 period is Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.  In this sector, employment grew 212% during this 30-year period adding more than 184,000 jobs.  Digging a little deeper into this industry sector using four- and six-digit NAICS level data can pinpoint where the growth occurred.   

Nine industry groups comprise the 4-digit NAICS level.  All industry groups included in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services sector increased employment from 1990 to 2020, but most of the job growth came from the top four: Computer Systems Design & Related Services; Management, Scientific & Technical Consulting Services; Architectural, Engineering, & Related Services; and Scientific Research & Development Services. These accounted for nearly three out of every four jobs gained in the sector, totaling over 138,000 jobs – see table below for details.  

Employment Growth in Professional, Scientific & Technical Services by 4-digit NAICS Industry (NC) 

NAICS Code  Industry Group (4-Digit NAICS)  2020 Avg. Annual Employment Estimate  1990 – 2020 Avg. Annual Employment Growth  1990 – 2020  Avg. Annual Employment % Growth 
5415 Computer Systems Design and Related Services  59,787 47,727 395.7%
5416 Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services  50,829 44,730 733.4%
5413 Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services  41,490 23,296 128.0%
5417 Scientific Research and Development Services  28,958 22,461 345.7%
5419 Other Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services  22,934 14,925 186.4%
5412 Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping, and Payroll Svcs.  25,966 13,814 113.7%
5411 Legal Services  25,500 11,429 81.2%
5418 Advertising and Related Services  10,928 4,743 76.7%
5414 Specialized Design Services  3,378 1,865 123.3%
Source: Generated by LEAD using QCEW data, Statewide 1990 & 2020 Annual 
 

Employment data at the 6-digit NAICS industry level is the most detailed information available and may help reveal additional insights that were not recognized at the 2- and 4-digit levels.  Due to suppression to protect the confidentiality of company-specific information, some data at the 6-digit level may be unavailable for analysis.  

At the 6-digit level, the top three industries by employment growth are part of the four largest industry groups as showed above. The fourth and fifth largest industries were Veterinary Services and Offices of Lawyers; combined, these five growth industries were responsible for adding 87,500 jobs over the 1990-2020 period. 

Note that, due a change in the NAICS classification, we do not have enough information to determine employment growth in three significant industries, Research and Development in Biotechnology; Research and Development in Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences; and Computer Systems Design Services. Each of these industries had employment size greater than 12,000 in 2020 and are large components of 4-digit industry groups that experienced over 300% growth over the past 30 years.

Employment Growth in Professional, Scientific & Technical Services by 6-digit NAICS Industry (NC)

NAICS Code

Industry (6-digit NAICS)

2020 Avg. Annual Employment Estimate

1990 – 2020 Avg. Annual Employment Growth

1990 – 2020 Avg. Annual Employment % Growth

541511

Custom Computer Programming Services

26,837

24,121

888.1%

541611

Admin. Mgmt. & General Mgmt. Consulting Services

24,819

23,226

1458.0%

541330

Engineering Services

27,984

17,984

179.8%

541940

Veterinary Services

15,356

11,661

315.6%

541110

Offices of Lawyers

24,429

10,573

76.3%

541613

Marketing Consulting Services

10,549

9,062

609.4%

541211

Offices of Certified Public Accountants

13,710

5,947

76.6%

541614

Process, Physical Distribution, & Logistics Consulting Services

4,954

4,506

1005.8%

541214

Payroll Services

4,499

3,716

474.6%

541990

All Other Professional, Scientific, & Technical Services

3,936

3,064

351.4%

541890

Other Services Related to Advertising

3,580

2,969

485.9%

541690

Other Scientific and Technical Consulting Services

3,238

2,921

921.5%

541620

Environmental Consulting Services

3,073

2,726

785.6%

541219

Other Accounting Services

4,945

2,639

114.4%

541380

Testing Laboratories

4,345

2,229

105.3%

541519

Other Computer Related Services

2,353

1,741

284.5%

541310

Architectural Services

4,293

1,629

61.1%

541213

Tax Preparation Services

2,812

1,511

116.1%

541618

Other Management Consulting Services

2,050

1,339

188.3%

541930

Translation and Interpretation Services

1,164

1,128

3133.3%

541612

H.R. & Executive Search Consulting Services

2,146

949

79.3%

541810

Advertising Agencies

3,009

902

42.8%

541430

Graphic Design Services

1,590

787

98.0%

541850

Outdoor Advertising

1,271

753

145.4%

541720

R&D in the Social Sciences and Humanities

1,297

752

138.0%

541370

Surveying & Mapping (except Geophysical) Services

2,651

667

33.6%

541840

Media Representatives

988

653

194.9%

541350

Building Inspection Services

688

650

1710.5%

541410

Interior Design Services

1,177

642

120.0%

541870

Advertising Material Distribution Services

516

471

1046.7%

541820

Public Relations Agencies

833

407

95.5%

541420

Industrial Design Services

426

383

890.7%

541320

Landscape Architectural Services

1,139

381

50.3%

541830

Media Buying Agencies

254

230

958.3%

541490

Other Specialized Design Services

185

53

40.2%

541910

Marketing Research & Public Opinion Polling

1,124

48

4.5%

541360

Geophysical Surveying & Mapping Services

234

-115

-33.0%

541340

Drafting Services

156

-130

-45.5%

541922

Commercial Photography

489

-154

-24.0%

541920

Photography Studios, Portrait

866

-822

-48.7%

541860

Direct Mail Advertising

476

-1,642

-77.5%

541713

R&D in Nanotechnology #

316

N/A

N/A

541191

Title Abstract & Settlement Offices

424

N/A

N/A

541199

All Other Legal Services

647

N/A

N/A

541513

Computer Facilities Management Services

1,185

N/A

N/A

541714

R&D in Biotechnology #

12,751

N/A

N/A

541715

R&D in Physical, Engineering, & Life Sciences #

14,595

N/A

N/A

541512

Computer Systems Design Services

29,413

N/A

N/A

  Source: Generated by LEAD staff using QCEW data, Statewide 1990 & 2020 Annual
 * Indicates data is unavailable due to suppression; # indicates NAICS code was not available in 1990; N/A indicates value was not able to be calculated due to suppression.
 

Additional observations of the 6-digit industry level data in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Sector:

  • The Translation and Interpretation Services industry showed the highest growth rate, an increase of more than 3000%.  Employment in 2020 was 1,164.
  • The second highest growth rate, more than 1700%, was in Building Inspection Services.  Average annual employment in 2020 was 688.
  • Not all industries added employment. Direct Mail Advertising; Photography Studios, Portrait;   Drafting Services; Geophysical Surveying and Mapping Services; and Commercial Photography lost more than 2,800 jobs combined.

This is the first of several articles and social media posts to analyze recently updated QCEW data to help understand how the state’s economy has changed from 1990 to 2020.  Look for more in the coming months.