FutureWork Disruption Index

FutureWork Disruption Index for North Carolina

How do North Carolina counties compare on vulnerability to the disruptions of technological unemployment and demographic change?

Released February 1, 2016, by the Institute for Emerging Issues

North Carolina faces an enormous “FutureWork” challenge as two big trends converge: the “rise of the robots” means that automation will significantly change or eliminate more and more jobs, and our state’s demography is shifting rapidly as we age, grow more diverse, and our workforce welcomes more women.

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) developed the FutureWork Disruption Index for North Carolina, a novel statistical measure of relative exposure to the disruptive impacts of technological unemployment and demographic change for North Carolina’s counties and regions. We provide Index values for NC’s 100 counties and seven economic development regions.

The Index was initially designed to spark conversation and encourage serious attention to the urgency of the FutureWork challenge, which was the focus of the 2016 Emerging Issues Forum, FutureWork. The FutureWork Forum examined how North Carolina can best confront shifting technology and demography to create good jobs for tomorrow’s diverse workforce.

Key Takeaways:

  • In counties across the state, automation threatens large numbers of current jobs. Low-wage jobs are particularly at risk, but automation is reaching up the jobs ladder to threaten many job categories. Counties facing the highest percentage of job losses due to automation are Watauga (41%), Carteret (40%), Dare (40%), Johnston (40%), Buncombe (39%) and Catawba (39%). On average, NC counties face the potential loss of more than 25% of their current jobs and nearly 20% of current wages as a result of automation.
  • The five counties most vulnerable to disruption are Northampton, Vance, Halifax, Robeson, and Nash; Orange County ranks as least vulnerable. Counties vary widely in vulnerability to disruption; some counties with strong economies nonetheless score high in vulnerability to disruption, a result of the uneven distribution of educational attainment, dependency ratios, and diversity.
  • Click here for full report and related data resource file. The interactive maps below allow for quick comparisons between counties and regions.


FutureWork Disruption Index by N.C. County

FutureWork Disruption Index by N.C. Prosperity Zone

Anticipated Jobs Lost to Technological Unemployment (by County)