North Carolina’s Interconnected Labor Markets

Regional Labor Markets

Jobseekers, employers, educators, program directors, and policymakers all want good knowledge and data to assist make financial and labor market choices.  A lot of the knowledge collected and reported depends on political boundaries that may appear disconnected from how our financial markets work. For instance, utilizing knowledge from a single county could not precisely communicate to the place a enterprise attracts its labor from; as LEAD has posted in earlier articles , solely a small proportion of NC’s staff stay and work in the identical county. One other geographic instance is knowledge reported for Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), which signify a federal try at creating multi-county areas.  Nonetheless, the MSA definition could not all the time align with current labor sheds and never all counties are included in MSAs – leaving most of the state’s counties unattached from their neighbors. To rectify this, LEAD initiated analysis to higher determine the connections between counties that outline our state’s labor markets.


LEAD researched many current fashions of regional financial geography earlier than selecting the USDA’s Commuting Zone methodology.  This system values bi-directional commuting relationships.  In different phrases, the place some fashions worth the first central hub of a labor market (e.g. a big central metropolis) and search for commuting relationships to it, the Commuting Zone strategy values commuters in each instructions. In our replace to this system, we used the Census’ Longitudinal Employer-Family Dynamics Origin-Vacation spot Employment Statistics (LODES) knowledge set as our measure of commuting. 

Counties are joined based mostly on the very best proportion of cross commuting to kind preliminary clusters. From there, cross commuting percentages are calculated between these preliminary clusters and different counties. Extra becoming a member of occurs between clusters and counties based mostly on these percentages, and the method repeats between clusters and different clusters, or clusters and counties. The method ends when a chosen stopping level – in North Carolina’s case, 25 commuting zones – are created. The stopping level is ready by way of statistical exams, frequent sense (i.e., is the space too nice for a daily commute), and exterior validity through comparability to the USDA’s commuting zones.


Under is a map of interconnected labor markets produced utilizing the most recent LODES knowledge (2018):

The chances (and colours) signify the share of staff in every market that stay and work inside these areas (henceforth described as “hub share”). Many of those zones span throughout a number of counties and/or MSAs, substantiating the necessity for different financial geographies talked about within the introduction for this submit. As evidenced by their darker coloring, the areas in Analysis Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and Asheville have excessive hub shares. These hub shares present proof for current insurance policies that deal with these counties as financial areas. Lastly, the map exhibits interstate interconnected markets within the southwest (with northern Georgia), within the northern piedmont (with Danville, VA), and within the northeast (with Virginia Seashore, VA). These areas indicate the potential for interstate collaboration with respect to financial growth.

Functions/Future Analysis

This evaluation can inform the dialog about North Carolina’s financial geography and hopefully promote better regional collaboration. For instance, it could be helpful for counties to collaborate, somewhat than compete, on enterprise recruitment tasks in the event that they share a labor market. These counties profit from the roles created by including a brand new employer to the area. 

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