DOBSON — North Carolina may lose about 2.4 million jobs by 2040, according to a report from N.C. State University
At Monday’s meeting of the Surry County Board of Commissioners board member Larry Phillips relayed an economic study by NCSU professor Mike Walden which stated automation will phase out about half of the jobs in the state.
Phillips said economists are calling the phenomenon a “technological disruption” in the economy, adding the numbers may not be as bad as they appear.
“What this doesn’t account for is the jobs which will be created from technological advances,” noted Phillips.
Though he said the worst-case scenario is North Carolina losing half its jobs, Phillips went on to say the newly created tech jobs will be higher paying than many jobs which will be lost. However, he said some level of “disruption” will likely occur.
The work base in the state has also changed dramatically, according to Phillips, moving from a manufacturing base to a job market largely comprised of opportunities in the healthcare industry.
Phillips said equipping the workforce to handle the changes must happen to alleviate the pain felt by residents affected by the disruption.
“The college is really what can close the gap here,” remarked Phillips. “Every economist and economic guru says the one common denominator in handling it is the skill level of the workforce.”
Phillips also said there will always be a need for skilled laborers such as plumbers or electricians.
Board Vice Chairman Eddie Harris indicated he believes other factors besides automation are affecting the economy.
“I question whether he (professor Walden) factored immigration, both legal and illegal, into this,” remarked Harris.
“Companies are bringing in people from other countries and forcing Americans to train their replacements,” said Harris, noting immigrants will work for lower wages.
“This country is being flooded with immigrants, and it’s wrong.”
Harris said the federal government has doubled the number of work visas it issued in recent years.
“We are being flooded by outside workers,” said Harris. “It’s driving wages down.”
“This is a sad indictment of our federal government.”
Andy is a staff writer and can be reached at 415-4698.