As an area that once relied heavily on tobacco, textiles and furniture manufacturing, the Triad was struggling with job losses even before the country dipped into recession.
The severity of that restructuring is reflected in the region’s jobs data, reports the News and Observer. The number of jobs in the Triad is now about the same as it was in March 2001.
“Come next spring we could actually have fewer payroll employment jobs and fewer private sector jobs than you had 10 years ago, which is extraordinary,” said John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, a Chapel Hill firm specializing in economic and social policy.
One of the area’s biggest economic development projects, a Dell computer assembly plant in Winston-Salem, quickly turned into a bust. The plant closed last month, just five years after it opened.
Quinterno said Winston-Salem has made more strides at repositioning its economy than Greensboro and High Point. The unemployment rate in October was 10.2 percent in Greensboro and 9.2 percent in Winston-Salem.
Among the recent bright spots for the Triad was Caterpillar’s announcement in July that it would build a factory in Winston-Salem next to the shuttered Dell plant that will add nearly 400 jobs. The company joins several other major corporations, including FedEx and Honda, that have established a presence in the Triad in recent years.
“The region has its advantages,” said Michale Walden, an economist at N.C. State University. “including a good education system and transportation network.” However Walden still expects the Triad to lag behind the Triangle and Charlotte as it continues to rebuild its economy. Read More.