Employment Projections

The Labor and Economic Analysis Division (LEAD) prepares projections of employment growth by industry and occupation for the state and sub-state areas.  Employment projections are widely used by North Carolina’s workforce, educational, and economic development partners for their planning in workforce development, programs and budgets, public policy, and career exploration activities.

The state and sub-state area long-term projections are for a 10-year period. The projections are revised every two years to maintain currency and incorporate economic changes that occur in the state and local areas. Statewide short-term projections are for a 2-year period, and are updated annually.

Data Sources and Methodology

Projections are prepared using the methodology, software tools, and guidance developed by the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP) in conjunction with the Education and Training Administration and Bureau of Labor Statistics. The long-term industry and occupational projections are produced in alternating years at state and sub-state levels. Short-term projections are prepared every year at the state level only.

LEAD utilizes industry employment data derived from the Enhanced Quarterly Unemployment Insurance (EQUI) dataset. It is the most complete and timely source of monthly employment and quarterly wages information by detailed industry and county. The data contains a quarterly count of employment and wages reported by employers and categorized by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. Employment data on industries not covered within the Unemployment Insurance (UI) program is collected from other sources such as Census Bureau and Railroad Retirement Board. The EQUI dataset also forms the base for federal data programs through the BLS.

The employment data passes through multiple phases of data processing and analysis. In the first phase, historical data is cleaned to ensure consistent formatting and validity before aggregation by NAICS for all industry levels. The data is also aggregated from the county level to sub-state areas and statewide.

The second phase begins by importing the historical data into the industry projections system. The industry projections system has multiple estimation models. The analyst chooses the model that best fits the historical data among the included shift-share, time series, and regression models. Outside sources of information such as industry expert opinion, current events, and objective national and regional input, play a role in producing reasonable estimates. In addition, economic indicator variables, such as population or retail sales, are used in the projection process after analyzing the historical data series to determine which variables could be used to explain the particular industry historical data series.

The final phase examines the projections with the industry staffing pattern. An industry staffing pattern is the ratio of the employment in each occupation to the total employment in the industry. Data used to create the staffing pattern is collected from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. Microdata from OES is imported into the Estimate Delivery System (EDS) system to produce an industry-occupation matrix that transforms the industry employment projections into occupational employment projections.”

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