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Booming Johnston Needs More Workers -- or Fewer Commuters

Posted May 16, 2007

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— The landscape is changing in North Carolina's fastest-growing county.

Once thought of as sleepy and rural, Johnston County is on a growth fast track. Between 2000 and 2006, its population grew more than 17 percent – from 132,000 then to 155,000 last year. Statewide, growth averaged 10 percent in the same period.

The current state unemployment rate is 4.5 percent. Johnston County's is 3.8 percent, a sign of a boom.
Businesses need to attract workers, which is why there was a job fair in Johnston County on Wednesday.

Employers have to go hunting for help, for truck drivers and teachers and even state troopers.

Growth has changed not only how Johnston County looks, but how it works. Jobs are less rural and more high tech.

Ramell Oakley of the Joblink Career Center, part of the state Department of Commerce, knows.

“We find our jobs changing. We definitely find ourselves becoming increasingly urban,” she said.

Part of the challenge is retraining. Applicants “find themselves needing to be retrained in order to meet the demands of those higher skilled jobs,” Oakley said.

Still, Johnston County itself is a market for skilled workers, which can be a challenge when a third of county residents commute to Wake County for work.

4 Comments

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  • CestLaVie May 17, 2007

    There may be a FEW high-tech companies in Johnston Co., but how does that help the third of its residents who go to Wake Co. & RTP for jobs & much better pay? I worked in Smithfield a few years ago, for dimes on the dollar with no bennies. The pay scale in Johnston Co. is ridiculous. Any high paying jobs are few and far between. The good old boy network and small town ethic still rules.

  • Eaglekeeper May 17, 2007

    I'd really like to know what companies are hunting for workers. I'd like to pass my resume off to them. Two months looking for work after Air Force retirement and I have one lead.

  • freddie cadetti 72 May 16, 2007

    There are high tech jobs in Johnston. Several Biotech companies are in the Clayton area.

  • BIG YAWN May 16, 2007

    I live in Johnston County. Where is all this high tech work they're talking about? Truck drivers, State Troopers, Teachers are considered high tech here? They're important jobs but hardly high tech. I live in the Flowers area of Johnston County and drive to RTP everyday. I love the pay at RTP and the traffic is just a part of life that's actually fun. We go slow enough on 40 in the morning, you can enjoy the scenery. The median flowers are awesome! Great job NCDOT!

    Speaking of State Troopers...I saw one this morning actually getting dirty on the side of east bound 40. He was changing a tire for a woman. Good job! They usually get a bad rap for giving out tickets. Thank you for your dedication to public service!