Trade, technology and towns

Date posted: July 10, 2013

Two of the biggest economic shakers of the past two decades have been trade and technology. Trade barriers between countries were lowered, and global buying and selling has skyrocketed. Information technology, in particular, has dramatically changed both the home and workplace. Have these two forces impacted different geographic regions in different ways? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Yes they have, big time. In fact, there was a national study looking at how these new trends affected local areas across the country that confirmed that. And you can really see it in North Carolina.

For example, the changes in trading technology generally have benefitted our metro areas like the Triangle, the Triad, Charlotte, Wilmington, Nashville to a lesser extent. This is because those areas tend to have large concentrations of college graduates. And its college graduates who and the jobs they have that are really benefitting from those changes in trade and technology.

On the other hand, unfortunately, many of our rural areas are areas that have much lower levels of educational attainment. They simply don’t have the numbers of college graduates. And they have seen jobs taken away by trade as some of those jobs have gone to foreign countries. They’ve also seen jobs taken away by technology as technology has mechanized many jobs.

So you can really see this in North Carolina. Really there’s an arc of gainers, if you will, that spans the Triangle, the Triad and down to Charlotte, and then many of our rural areas, especially in the far west foothills and along I-95, have really been losing jobs as a result of these big changes.

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