Education Linked to Economic Growth
Quality education is the most effective business incentive North Carolina can offer in today’s economy, Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland told an audience of about 260 at Nash Community College. The event was sponsored by the Strategic Twin Counties Education Partnership (STEP). He pointed out two statistics that help sell North Carolina to growth-minded businesses: the UNC System produces about 55,000 graduates each year and more than 700,000 students are enrolled in the NC Community College System at any given time. The state’s current 4.4 percent unemployment rate is likely an over-estimate, he said, with above-average workforce growth masking the pace of job-creation. Education and workforce development are also keys to moving the needle on wages. Since 2008, six out of ten new jobs in North Carolina came with annual pay of $35,000 or less. “There’s a disparate economy here among people and the jobs that we’re bringing in,” Copeland said.
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