Charlotte’s job growth suggests a fast post-pandemic recovery

Charlotte’s job growth suggests a fast post-pandemic recovery
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Charlotte’s job market is recovering at a faster clip than the rest of the country.

That’s according to the latest economic report from the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. Per the report, the 15-county Charlotte region has already added back more than half of the jobs we lost in the first two quarters of 2020, when coronavirus triggered the mass closures of businesses.

Why it matters: If the Charlotte area keeps up this pace of job growth, we could return to job levels we had pre-pandemic by the end of this year.

Yes, but: There are several factors that’ll play into the pace of local job growth, including vaccinations and the spread of new coronavirus variants.
Looking ahead, the fate of workers in the hospitality industry (hotels and restaurants) will hinge on people’s comfort in going out and spending money, says Chuck McShane, the Alliance’s SVP of economic research.

Another trend McShane is watching is the loss of jobs among women both in the Charlotte region and nationally.

  • Women lost 5.4 million jobs in 2020, whereas men lost 4.4 million, according to multiple reports including CNN Business.
  • School closures and other demands for family care lead to disproportionate job losses among women, McShane says.

But Charlotte will continue to be an attractive market for both companies and workers looking to relocate, he says. Charlotte’s airport, weather, talent pool and cost of living are all major draws.

  • The sectors with the strongest job growth in the fourth quarter were transportation and warehousing (think logistics companies and warehouses for companies like Amazon), as well as government.
  • Companies with headquarters in Charlotte directly generate thousands of jobs (Bank of America has 16,000 here, for instance) and support other industries like construction, McShane says.

Fun fact: Employment in the headquarters sector (companies with an HQ here) is twice as large in Charlotte as the national average, based on our population, Alliance data show.

A few highlights from the report:

  • The Charlotte region added 44,867 jobs (3.5% growth) in the fourth quarter, outpacing national growth of 2.3%.
  • In all of 2020, the region saw 85 economic development projects, totaling 10,089 jobs. A few notables include Arrival and Centene.
  • The region’s jobless rate stands at 5.9%, down from a 2020 peak of 13.2% in May. Our current rate matches its level from the summer of 2015, which was six years into the past economic recovery.

“We’re not out of the woods but there’s more optimism now,” McShane says.

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