12-11-2019 – Report shows strong wage growth

Posted on: December 11th, 2019 by admin


December 11, 2019



By Guy Lucas


Dec 11, 2019 12:00 AM


A new state report confirms income growth in Caldwell County that continues to outpace that of neighboring counties.


The average private sector wage — the average annual pay of all non-government full-time jobs — in Caldwell County this year was $40,124 a year, up $1,167, or barely under 3%, from last year, the N.C. Labor and Economic Analysis Division reported.


That means the county’s average private sector wage has risen 25%, or $8,115, since 2015, and now ranks as the 26th highest among the state’s 100 counties.


Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, touted the numbers at the Economic Development Commission’s annual Christmas breakfast on Tuesday.


“This is where we’re beginning to see the ship turning,” she said. “We are headed in the right direction, folks.”


The report is based on census data on employment and wages through mid-2019.


Caldwell’s neighbors in the Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton metropolitan statistical area have also seen growth, but less.


Catawba County’s average private sector wage was the highest in the region, $43,133, which is up $1,059, or 2.5%, from last year and $6,381, or 17.3%, from 2015.


Burke County’s average private sector wage was $36,801, up $1,042, or 2.9%, from last year and $3,868, or 11.7%, from 2015.


The report on private sector wages follows close after the state’s annual report ranking counties on their level of economic distress. That report dropped Caldwell to Tier 1, the group of 40 counties that the state deems to be in the most economic distress.


But that report also showed that Caldwell had the fifth-highest jump in household median income in the state from the prior year’s report.


Addressing the local elected officials attending the EDC’s breakfast, Murray said that the largest factor in Caldwell’s economic distress ranking was its slow population growth, which may accelerate if some potential apartment developments get off the ground.


And she said there is a silver lining to being designated as Tier 1: It makes local governments eligible to more grants to help build the infrastructure needed to attract more industry.


“Take advantage of a Tier 1 situation,” she said. “Invest in the infrastructure we’re going to need to build the economy.”

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