CHARLOTTE – The state of the technology industry in North Carolina is strong, competitive, and a major contributor to the state’s economy, a new report from NC TECH concludes.

The State of the Technology Industry Report, also known as NC TECH STIR, was released earlier today at an annual event organized by the North Carolina Technology Association, NC TECH, in Charlotte.  WRAL TechWire also conducted an interview about the report, and about the state of the technology industry in North Carolina, with NC TECH president and CEO Brooks Raiford, published today.

According to the report, while North Carolina’s technology industry employs 275,306 people, accounting for 6% of the state’s total workforce, based on the latest available data, the industry accounts for about 11% of the state’s total earnings and sales.

Further, the report found that the state’s technology industry contributes 10.2% in terms of tax revenues paid, 7.3% of the state’s exports, and for 12.4% of the Gross State Product, or GSP.

“With a five-year growth trend of 15 percent and an expected 6.1 percent in growth to 2026, the tech industry has become even more important in the state’s changing economy,” the report concludes.

Across the rankings contained within the report, North Carolina continues to rank in the top 15 states in the U.S. for many key indicators, and added jobs to the state’s economy during what the report calls “one of the greatest economic disruptions of our time.”

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Increasing technology jobs

Overall, the employment change in the state’s technology industry in the five-year period between 2014 and 2019 was 14.9%, the report found.  And, further, the state saw a one-year growth rate of 2% between 2019 and 2020, the report concluded.

“The tech industry is also becoming a major engine of the state economy,” the report reads.  “In the last five years, the tech industry added over 35,620 jobs.”

That’s the third highest industry group, and outpaces the healthcare, manufacturing, and finance industries, the report notes.  Only construction and transportation and warehousing outpaced technology jobs.

Though this year’s STIR report analyzes data from 2020, it does touch on the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic.  During the pandemic, despite North Carolina’s economy experiencing a 3.9% employment decline during 2020, “the results by industry varied widely,” the report reads.

“The impact of the pandemic on the economy was unequal,” the report reads.  “Those jobs that were higher paying were those that were most secure while low wage jobs, concentrated in the service industries, saw the biggest losses.”

Meanwhile, that was not the case in the technology industry, the report noted.  “The tech subcategories were some of the industries that fared the best in 2020, and even added jobs,” the report reads.

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And increasing job openings

And though job postings for technology occupations analyzed for the report show that 2020 roles were “much lower” than 2019 levels, indicating companies reduced hiring anticipating an economic downturn caused by the onset of the pandemic and continued uncertainty throughout the remainder of the year.

“Data on unique job postings for tech occupations show that 2020 levels were much lower than 2019 levels,” the report reads.  “This indicates that companies tightened their spending and reduced their hiring for tech workers in order to survive the downturn. However, now in 2021, job postings are happening at high rates once again.”

The latest NC TECH IT Jobs Report showed that job openings for technology roles surpassed prior highs in January 2022.

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Ranking the state against others

The report analyzed the state’s performance on a number of measures pertaining to the role the technology industry plays.

North Carolina ranks second among all states (and third, if the District of Columbia, D.C., is included) for the percentage of women in the technology industry’s workforce, with 35.7%.  A recent WalletHub report ranked North Carolina as the 21st worst state for women.

And for those who hold roles in IT, the average annual wage for industry employees ranks 12th among all states, while cost of living is still seen as relatively low compared to the states that rank above North Carolina.  The average annual wage for IT industry employees was found to be $143,227, when purchasing power was included in the analysis, adjusting for cost of living.  Within North Carolina, the report found, average wages for IT professionals are double the average for wages across all industries.

Across all technology industry roles, North Carolina ranks 6th for annual wages, with the purchasing power adjustment, at $91,674, the report found.

North Carolina also ranks 15th for IT industry employment growth and 5th for overall technology industry employment growth, 16th for the concentration of IT, high-tech core sectors, 21st for expected IT employment growth but 9th for expected employment growth across all technology fields, and 22nd for diversity.

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