Local Politics

Methodology: Do jobs promises pay off?

Posted October 12, 2014
Updated October 19, 2015

WRAL's investigation into how incentive programs have performed, including the Job Promise Explorer, analyzed the 314 incentive grants announced for companies during the administration of Gov. Bev Perdue.

Incentives issued through the state's Job Development Investment Grants and One North Carolina Fund take years to fully pay out as companies ramp up production, build new facilities or relocate, making Perdue's announcements from 2009 to 2012 an ideal period to evaluate in late 2015.

What jobs cost Job Promise Explorer

The analysis is powered by data from the N.C. Department of Commerce and a database manually created by WRAL News reporter Tyler Dukes using press releases supplied by the state archives.

The commerce data, part of a report released to members of the General Assembly annually on Oct. 1, includes details on how many jobs a company has created and how much of a grant the state has paid out, among other information. A few grants still early in their cycles are not yet required to report.

Perdue's press releases provide data on the 279 job announcements her office made during her tenure related to JDIG and One North Carolina grants. The database includes details on the number of projected jobs and the average wage announced. Some announcements included multiple grants for a single job project.

After matching the two data sources using database software and excluding projects that have not yet reported to the commerce department, 304 grants for 275 unique projects could then be evaluated based on their progress toward meeting the promises made by Perdue's office.

Three metrics, in context

Grant period elapsed is the number of days between the date the grant was initially awarded and the most recent commerce performance reporting date. For JDIG projects, the reporting date is Dec. 31, 2013. For One North Carolina grants, the reporting date is Dec. 31, 2014. For One North Carolina grants, the number is calculated as a percentage of the grant term, which can range from three to eight years.

JDIG projects have a longer cycle primarily so commerce officials can monitor continued performance. For these projects, the number is calculated as a percentage of the ramp-up period, called the "base term," which can range from two to five years.

Grants officially closed or terminated are calculated to have reached 100 percent of their elapsed grant period.

Cumulative grant periods for states, counties and companies with multiple projects are calculated as the total number of elapsed days as a percentage of the total number of days in all corresponding grant terms.

Jobs created is the number of actual jobs a company creates and reports to the commerce department. It's represented as the percentage of total jobs announced in the governor's press releases. For JDIG projects, the most recent job creation data is current as of Dec. 31, 2013. For One North Carolina grants, the most recent job creation data is current as of Dec. 31, 2014. In cases where a company received both a JDIG and One North Carolina grant for a single project, the number of jobs announced and created are only counted once.

Money awarded is the amount the state has actually paid out as of June 30, 2015, the most recent data available from the commerce department. When the state awards a JDIG to a company in one of the state's most prosperous counties, a percentage of the total award will go to a state fund for rural infrastructure. In these cases, "money awarded" is taken as a percentage of the maximum award available to the company only.

Since the individual grants are all at different stages, viewing all three of these calculations together allows viewers to see for themselves a project's progress toward official projections. Using WRAL's Job Promise Explorer, those metrics are available for the entire state, by county or company.

Publishing this data gives readers the power to interact with, download and explore the grant awards on their own. It also allows us to show our work by sharing the information we used to summarize the data.

Data is current as of the commerce department report released Oct. 1, 2015. This data and the corresponding application will be updated annually.

Questions? Spot an error? Email reporter Tyler Dukes.


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