Of all the booming cities across the U.S., perhaps none is a better representation of national growth than Charlotte, North Carolina. The national jobs report showed employers added 295,000 jobs in February, reported Forbes. Charlotte was one of the cities that spurred that expansion.
"Charlotte is, by differing measurements, the first, second or third fastest growing city in America," Bob Morgan, head of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, told WSOC. "We're playing on a stage nationally and internationally unlike we've ever seen before, and our growth rate reflects the fact that more people are aware of Charlotte, and more people and companies are choosing to make it home."
With a growing jobs scene in finance and banking, a number of colleges and universities, and two pro sports teams - the NBA's Hornets and the NFL's Panthers - Charlotte has much to offer both employers and job seekers.
"Charlotte has undergone encouraging employment growth recently."
Charlotte employment gains across the board
There has been much ado about the renewed focus on the city center as America's breadwinner. A City Observatory study claimed that jobs are leaving the suburbs and moving back into urban centers. However, some of that data is misleading - according to The Week, nearly half of the 41 city centers referenced in the study showed even or negative growth. In many of these cities, the periphery actually witnessed employment growth.
But in Charlotte, the urban center is humming right along.
From 2002 to 2011, Charlotte's employment opportunities increased by almost 1.5 percent annually. Charlotte suburbs did well too, growing by an average 1 percent per year during the same period.
All of this means that there may be no accurate way to trend employment movement across the U.S. at large - perhaps the jobs market is best understood on a case-by-case basis. In the case of Charlotte, the pattern is not difficult to understand: jobs are moving into the downtown area, and into the suburbs, too. It could be Charlotte's sprawling layout that encourages even growth in the urban center as well as the periphery.
"The growth within Charlotte has been extraordinary," observed Eric Felice, Division Director of Beacon Hill Financial in Charlotte. "Between our established client base dramatically increasing their demand for talent and with the amount of new companies moving into our city and staffing up, the job market here is exploding. It is a great time to be working in Charlotte."
Wage growth starts to outdo inflation
In the aftermath of the Recession, jobs growth has taken small but definite steps back toward normal levels. But wages have remained stubbornly low, growing only through inflation, according to Charlotte Business Journal. However, a recent study from Duke University and CFO Magazine found that 70 percent of employers across the U.S. reported wages grew at a faster rate than inflation.
The results are significant. Much of the recent jobs growth has been misleading - low-wage opportunities replaced the midlevel jobs lost during the Recession. A pickup in wages is a sign that the nation's economy is normalizing.
"The first few years of recovery were 'jobless' and, even as job growth picked up over the past year, wages remained stagnant," John Graham, finance professor at Duke, explained to Charlotte Business Journal. "Finally, we are starting to see wage growth for employees that outstrips inflation."
As employment and wages increase nationwide, Charlotte serves as microcosm of the improving market.
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