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July 24, 2007

The new big five

For decades North Carolina's economy was led by the Big Three of tobacco, textiles and furniture. While those industries are all downsizing, new industries have grown, says N.C. State University economist Mike Walden.

"I term them the Big Five –- the new Big Five: technology, pharmaceuticals, food processing, banking and vehicle parts," explains Dr. Walden, a North Carolina Cooperative Extension economist. "And to give you a comparison on how the economy has changed, if you looked at our economy in North Carolina in 1977 the Big Three then accounted for 22 percent of all income generated in the economy. The Big Five that I just mentioned accounted for 9 percent.

"Today that has almost exactly flipflopped," he adds. "The traditional Big Three accounts now for about 7 percent of our economy. The new Big Five accounts for 17 percent of our economy.

"So fortunately for North Carolina while our traditional economy has been downsizing, we have had these news industries that have been upsizing," he says.

"Clearly the biggest growth we have seen in North Carolina has been in the banking sector: We now have the second largest banking center in the country in Charlotte, second only to New York.

"But this change has not come easily. Workers in the Big Three cannot necessarily easily move over to the new jobs created in the Big Five," he concludes. "That's really the challenge for our state."

Posted by deeshore at July 24, 2007 08:00 AM