The recession has accelerated trends already well under way in this state, giving an overwhelming employment edge to educated workers in a technology-based economy.
The N.C. Commission on Workforce Development on Wednesday painted a dire picture for the legions of middle-class workers who for much of the 20th century formed the state's economic backbone.
In a report on the state of North Carolina's workers, the commission warned that the traditional job that required no more than a basic high school education is fast disappearing in this state. Displaced workers who are not retrained will end up in low-wage jobs, if they can find employment at all.
The commission said that North Carolina's economic future depends on public officials developing smart policies. Such policies include steering more students to get marketable skills in the sciences and expanding programs that provide midlife retraining for veteran workers displaced by layoffs.
Much of this was laid out in the commission's 2007 report, but the transformation has been intensified by the recession, the new report said.
Indeed, legions of the displaced workers are not in obsolete blue-collar jobs but instead have been disgorged by the flagship employers in the intelligence-based economy. Companies like IBM, Nortel Networks, Tekelec, Sony Ericsson - and most recently, Cisco Systems - have collectively announced thousands of job cuts in the Triangle in the past few years, some staffing up in India and other parts of the world with cheaper labor and cheaper production.
Still, at least 42 percent of jobs being created in this state will require some education beyond a high school diploma, often in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the commission's report says.
The best jobs in the state are going to the educated technology elites who stream into the state in search of high-paying jobs. The result is that many of the people in this state who have the best-paying jobs aren't from here.
If people keep moving here from other states at present rates, "the number of people born outside of North Carolina will surpass the number of native North Carolinians within the next three years," the report says.
That would represent a landmark shift for the state demographically, politically and culturally.
New residents are also resettling to the rural parts of the state, but these recent arrivals tend to be Hispanics who take the lowest-paying menial jobs. Many of North Carolina's rural areas would have experienced population declines if not for the arrival of Latinos who are replacing younger people who left in search of better opportunities elsewhere, like the Triangle and Charlotte.
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