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Report: Jobs growing in North Carolina's tech sector

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North Carolina companies kept adding technology workers during the worst of the pandemic. That's one of the findings in a new report from the North Carolina Technology Association.

Economist Ted Abernathy says life sciences and information technology saw the swiftest growth. Combined, these two sectors employ about 248,000 people.

"These are also the sectors that are growing the fastest in the last two years through the pandemic, and also through the last five years," Abernathy said.

The report says North Carolina ranked ninth in the nation for tech job growth from 2016 to 2021. Tech employment is forecast to grow by seven percent over the next five years.

Construction companies and financial firms are hiring more workers with technology experience too. Abernathy says this is important to remember, as community colleges and universities graduate more students with technology-related degrees.

"That doesn't mean they're going to work for a software company or biotech pharmaceutical company," Abernathy said. "A lot of them will end up working in construction and government and finance."

While technology companies are concentrated in the Triangle and Charlotte, Abernathy says demand for occupations like IT engineers is spread across the whole state.

"Having the right people with the right skills in technology is now more important to 70 plus of our counties," he said.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.