Introducing NC’s 2023 Employment Projections

LEAD recently published the near-term employment projections for 2021-2023 at Short-term employment projections are published in March of each year. These two-year statewide projections are based on business cycle analyzes and historical and socio-economic indicators. This differs from long-term projections, which assume an equilibrium labor market and project employment over 10 years.

This analysis forecasts continued growth in the economy, with an increase of 230,137 or 4.8% between the second quarter of 2021 (2021 Q2) and the first quarter of 2023 (2023 Q1). This is mainly attributable to the growth of service industries (+196,056), but also to the growth of goods-producing industries (+26,253). The fastest growing service delivery industry sectors are expected to be:

  • Accommodation and food services (+40,526), ​​led by Food services and drinking places (+31,946),
  • Professional, scientific and technical services (+20,976),
  • Finance and Insurance (+20,213), driven by Intermediation-Credit and Related Activities (+11,527),
  • Transportation and Warehousing (+18,850), led by Warehousing and Warehousing (+14,433), and
  • Retail trade (+17,995), led by building materials and garden equipment and supplies dealers (+3,482).

With the exception of accommodation and food services, these projected changes put employment in these industry sectors above pre-pandemic levels (i.e. in the first quarter of 2020).

The projections also include percentage changes, which may highlight smaller but growing industrial sectors and sub-sectors. The service delivery industry sectors projected to grow the fastest differ somewhat from those growing the fastest over the two-year period:

  • Arts, Entertainment & Recreation (+11%) – led by Entertainment, Gambling & Recreation (+27%),
  • Accommodation and Food (+11%) – led by Accommodation (+27%),
  • Finance and insurance (+10%) – driven by securities, commodity contracts and other financial investments and related activities (+13%),
  • Transportation and Warehousing (+10%) – led by Warehousing and Warehousing (+27%) and
  • Real estate and rental and leasing (+8%) – led by rental and leasing services (+12%).

Despite this growth, employment in arts, entertainment and recreation is still expected to be below its pre-pandemic level. Real estate and renting and lending are expected to be slightly above their pre-pandemic level.

In terms of goods-producing industry sectors, construction, which has already surpassed its pre-pandemic level, is expected to see the largest increase in employment and the strongest projected growth (+15,978/+ 7%), led by specialist contractors. (+9,034/+6%).

In addition to industry projections, occupational projections are available as part of this release. All professional families are expected to grow over the two-year period. These increases reflect the continued growth of North Carolina’s economy.

The occupational families (major groups) showing the largest increases in projected employment are:

  • Material transport and moving professions (+33,459)
  • Food preparation and serving personnel (+33,427)
  • Sales and related personnel (+20,496)
  • Office and administrative support staff (+17,239)
  • Commercial and financial operations staff (+16,374)

The occupational families with the fastest projected growth rates are:

  • Food preparation and serving occupations (+9%)
  • Provision of personal care and services (+7%)
  • Transportation and material moving occupations (+7%)
  • Computer and math occupations (+7%)
  • Arts, design, entertainment, sports and media occupations (+6%)

Finally, it may be useful to compare North Carolina’s projections to those of other states. These can be viewed at Note that although the projection period is the same for all states, the referenced data may not be uniform in all cases. For example, North Carolina used data from the first quarter of 2021 as a base and adjusted estimates using data from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and current employment statistics ( CES) from the second and third quarters of 2021. Some other states only used QCEW data from the 1st or 2nd quarter of 2021.

Disclaimer/Data Note:

The 2021-2023 short-term employment projections were developed over a period from December 2021 to early March 2022. The projection method and assumptions were developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These projections use a wide variety of models to determine near-term industry trends, which in turn impact occupational projections.

Generally, these projections assume that the following are true over the projected period (2021-2023):

  • Work patterns will not change significantly over the projection period (i.e. the average work week will not change markedly)
  • Major social and educational trends will continue
  • There will be no major war
  • There will be no significant change in the size of the armed forces
  • Fluctuations in economic activity due to the business cycle will continue to occur
  • There will be no major recession

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