Download the Wilkes County Economic Overview Report

Demographic Profile

The population in Wilkes County, North Carolina was 68,525 per American Community Survey data for 2013-2017. The region has a civilian labor force of 30,456 with a participation rate of 54.6%. Of individuals 25 to 64 in Wilkes County, North Carolina, 16.5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher which compares with 32.3% in the nation. The median household income in Wilkes County, North Carolina is $37,173 and the median house value is $123,700.

Wilkes County Demographic Profile

Source: JobsEQ®

  1. American Community Survey 2013-2017, unless noted otherwise
  2. Median values for certain aggregate regions (such as MSAs) may be estimated as the weighted averages of the median values from the composing counties.
  3. 2017; Current Population Survey, unionstats.com, and Chmura; county- and zip-level data are best estimates based upon industry-, MSA-, and state-level data
  4. Disconnected Youth are 16-19 year olds who are (1) not in school, (2) not high school graduates, and (3) either unemployed or not in the labor force.
  5. Census 2017, annual average growth rate since 2007

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Employment Trends

As of 2018Q4, total employment for Wilkes County, North Carolina was 24,670 (based on a four-quarter moving average). Over the year ending 2018Q4, employment declined 0.6% in the region.

Wilkes County Employment Trends

Employment data are derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and imputed where necessary. Data are updated through 2018Q2 with preliminary estimates updated to 2018Q4.

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Unemployment Rate

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for Wilkes County, North Carolina was 3.7% as of December 2018. The regional unemployment rate was lower than the national rate of 3.9%. One year earlier, in December 2017, the unemployment rate in Wilkes County, North Carolina was 4.2%.

Wilkes County Unemployment Rate

Unemployment rate data are from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and updated through December 2018.

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Wage Trends

The average worker in Wilkes County, North Carolina earned annual wages of $35,743 as of 2018Q4. Average annual wages per worker increased 1.4% in the region over the preceding four quarters. For comparison purposes, annual average wages were $55,713 in the nation as of 2018Q4.

Wage Trends

Annual average wages per worker data are derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and imputed where necessary. Data are updated through 2018Q2 with preliminary estimates updated to 2018Q4.

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Cost of Living Index

The Cost of Living Index estimates the relative price levels for consumer goods and services. When applied to wages and salaries, the result is a measure of relative purchasing power. The cost of living is 11.0% lower in Wilkes County, North Carolina than the U.S. average.

Cost Of Living Index

Source: JobsEQ®
Data as of 2018Q4
Cost of Living per C2ER, data as of 2018q4, imputed by Chmura where necessary.

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Industry Snapshot

The largest sector in Wilkes County, North Carolina is Manufacturing, employing 4,739 workers. The next-largest sectors in the region are Health Care and Social Assistance (3,317 workers) and Retail Trade (3,050). High location quotients (LQs) indicate sectors in which a region has high concentrations of employment compared to the national average. The sectors with the largest LQs in the region are Management of Companies and Enterprises (LQ = 4.38), Manufacturing (2.33), and Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (1.85).

Industry Snapshot

Employment data are derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and imputed where necessary. Data are updated through 2018Q2 with preliminary estimates updated to 2018Q4.

Sectors in Wilkes County, North Carolina with the highest average wages per worker are Management of Companies and Enterprises ($75,913), Utilities ($70,603), and Finance and Insurance ($61,655). Regional sectors with the best job growth (or most moderate job losses) over the last 5 years are Manufacturing (+469 jobs), Health Care and Social Assistance (+333), and Retail Trade (+303).

Over the next 5 years, employment in Wilkes County, North Carolina is projected to expand by 32 jobs. The fastest growing sector in the region is expected to be Health Care and Social Assistance with a +0.9% year-over-year rate of growth. The strongest forecast by number of jobs over this period is expected for Health Care and Social Assistance (+148 jobs), Construction (+36), and Accommodation and Food Services (+36).

Industry Snapshot

Source: JobsEQ®

Employment data are derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and imputed where necessary. Data are updated through 2018Q2 with preliminary estimates updated to 2018Q4. Forecast employment growth uses national projections adapted for regional growth patterns.

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Occupation Snapshot

The largest major occupation group in Wilkes County, North Carolina is Production Occupations, employing 3,319 workers. The next-largest occupation groups in the region are Office and Administrative Support Occupations (3,157 workers) and Sales and Related Occupations (2,484). High location quotients (LQs) indicate occupation groups in which a region has high concentrations of employment compared to the national average. The major groups with the largest LQs in the region are Production Occupations (LQ = 2.22), Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations (1.74), and Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations (1.26).

Occupation groups in Wilkes County, North Carolina with the highest average wages per worker are Management Occupations ($107,600), Architecture and Engineering Occupations ($72,300), and Computer and Mathematical Occupations ($70,000). The unemployment rate in the region varied among the major groups from 1.5% among Management Occupations to 7.1% among Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations.

Over the next 5 years, the fastest growing occupation group in Wilkes County, North Carolina is expected to be Healthcare Support Occupations with a +1.3% year-over-year rate of growth. The strongest forecast by number of jobs over this period is expected for Healthcare Support Occupations (+47 jobs) and Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations (+43). Over the same period, the highest separation demand (occupation demand due to retirements and workers moving from one occupation to another) is expected in Production Occupations (1,887 jobs) and Office and Administrative Support Occupations (1,697).

Occupation Snapshot

Source: JobsEQ®

Data as of 2018Q4 unless noted otherwise

Note: Figures may not sum due to rounding.

  1. Occupation wages are as of 2017 and should be taken as the average for all Covered Employment
  2. Data represent found online ads active within the last thirty days in the selected region; data represents a sampling rather than the complete universe of postings. Ads lacking zip code information but designating a place (city, town, etc.) may be assigned to the zip code with greatest employment in that place for queries in this analytic. Due to alternative county-assignment algorithms, ad counts in this analytic may not match that shown in RTI (nor in the popup window ad list).

Occupation employment data are estimated via industry employment data and the estimated industry/occupation mix. Industry employment data are derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and currently updated through 2018Q2, imputed where necessary with preliminary estimates updated to 2018Q4. Wages by occupation are as of 2017 provided by the BLS and imputed where necessary. Forecast employment growth uses national projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics adapted for regional growth patterns.

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Industry Clusters

A cluster is a geographic concentration of interrelated industries or occupations. The industry cluster in Wilkes County, North Carolina with the highest relative concentration is Food Mfg. with a location quotient of 10.40. This cluster employs 2,937 workers in the region with an average wage of $37,838. Employment in the Food Mfg. cluster is projected to contract in the region about 0.5% per year over the next ten years.

Industry Clusters

Location quotient and average wage data are derived from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, imputed where necessary, and updated through 2018Q2 with preliminary estimates updated to 2018Q4. Forecast employment growth uses national projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics adapted for regional growth patterns.

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Education Levels

Expected growth rates for occupations vary by the education and training required. While all employment in Wilkes County, North Carolina is projected to grow 0.0% over the next ten years, occupations typically requiring a postgraduate degree are expected to grow 0.7% per year, those requiring a bachelor’s degree are forecast to grow 0.3% per year, and occupations typically needing a 2-year degree or certificate are expected to grow 0.3% per year.

Education Levels

Employment by occupation data are estimates are as of 2018Q4. Education levels of occupations are based on BLS assignments. Forecast employment growth uses national projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics adapted for regional growth patterns.

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Gross Domestic Product

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of goods and services produced by a region. In 2017, nominal GDP in Wilkes County, North Carolina expanded 6.8%. This follows growth of 0.7% in 2016. As of 2017, total GDP in Wilkes County, North Carolina was $2,413,161,000.

Wilkes County Gross Domestic Product 1

Gross Domestic Product data are provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, imputed by Chmura where necessary, updated through 2017.

Of the sectors in Wilkes County, North Carolina, Manufacturing contributed the largest portion of GDP in 2017, $950,606,000 The next-largest contributions came from Management of Companies and Enterprises ($193,521,000); Health Care and Social Assistance ($176,233,000); and Retail Trade ($159,458,000).

Wilkes County Gross Domestic Product 2

Gross Domestic Product data are provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, imputed by Chmura where necessary, updated through 2017.

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FAQ

What is a location quotient?
A location quotient (LQ) is a measurement of concentration in comparison to the nation. An LQ of 1.00 indicates a region has the same concentration of an industry (or occupation) as the nation. An LQ of 2.00 would mean the region has twice the expected employment compared to the nation and an LQ of 0.50 would mean the region has half the expected employment in comparison to the nation.
What is separation demand?
Separation demand is the number of jobs required due to separations—labor force exits (including retirements) and turnover resulting from workers moving from one occupation into another. Note that separation demand does not include all turnover—it does not include when workers stay in the same occupation but switch employers. The total projected demand for an occupation is the sum of the separation demand and the growth demand (which is the increase or decrease of jobs in an occupation expected due to expansion or contraction of the overall number of jobs in that occupation).
What is a cluster?
A cluster is a geographic concentration of interrelated industries or occupations. If a regional cluster has a location quotient of 1.25 or greater, the region is considered to possess a competitive advantage in that cluster.
What is the difference between industry wages and occupation wages?
Industry wages and occupation wages are estimated via separate data sets, often the time periods being reported do not align, and wages are defined slightly differently in the two systems (for example, certain bonuses are included in the industry wages but not the occupation wages). It is therefore common that estimates of the average industry wages and average occupation wages in a region do not match exactly.
What is NAICS?
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used to classify business establishments according to the type of economic activity. The NAICS Code comprises six levels, from the “all industry” level to the 6-digit level. The first two digits define the top level category, known as the “sector,” which is the level examined in this report.
What is SOC?
The Standard Occupational Classification system (SOC) is used to classify workers into occupational categories. All workers are classified into one of over 820 occupations according to their occupational definition. To facilitate classification, occupations are combined to form 23 major groups, 96 minor groups, and 449 occupation groups. Each occupation group includes detailed occupations requiring similar job duties, skills, education, or experience.

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Economic Overview - Wilkes County, North Carolina Mar2019