Energy Jobs Can Improve North Carolina’s Labor Market
Economists, business leaders, and community advocates are pouring over the latest jobs report from the North Carolina Department of Commerce in hopes of finding glimmers of hope as our economy continues to struggle with recovering from one of the greatest economic crisis in 80 years.
The jobless rate stays unchanged at 8.8% – the fifth highest in the country. A more broader measure of unemployment pegs the rate at 16%, higher than the national average of 14%. Currently there are three unemployed workers for every one job available. Job gains are being driven by low paying opportunities in the travel and leisure sector, which most often pays a salary well below the national average.
NC economic development officials are under great pressure to solve this never-ending challenge that is preventing working families from returning to the labor market. I firmly believe the solution lies in further expanding the state’s energy jobs. Through more onshore and offshore energy exploration, NC has a real opportunity to restart job growth, while generating new tax revenue that helps to stabilize government budgets. Not to mention, the average energy job pays a median salary of $60,000 to a high school graduate, well above the national average.
Take a look at states that have recovered from the ‘Great Recession’ – North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Alaska, and Pennsylvania – the average unemployment rate is around 5%. The solution is clear, it’s time to get NC into the energy business, so that we can reduce the high level of joblessness, boost wage growth, and restore prosperity in our great state.
Algenon Cash is the managing director of Wharton Gladden, a Greensboro-based investment banking firm. He is also the State Chairman of the North Carolina Energy Forum and National Director for the America’s Energy Forum.
*Source: Winston-Salem Journal