JoCoCareers.org Aims to Fine-Tune Johnston County’s Labor Market
JOHNSTON COUNTY – Johnston County is one of the state’s fastest growing counties in terms of population and employment. A website – JoCoCareers.org — launched earlier this month seeks to align new jobs and workers, and reduce the high number of county residents who commute to neighboring towns and cities. County leaders hope the new resource also will alleviate workforce shortages that Johnston County businesses, like those across the state and nation, currently face as the economy sorts out post-pandemic opportunities and challenges.
The latest jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that as of November 2021, Johnston County’s unemployment rate was a scant 2.9 percent, slightly above that of Wake County (2.7 percent), but well below those of neighboring Harnett (3.8 percent), Nash (4.6 percent) and Wilson counties (4.9 percent). At the same time, data from the N.C. Department of Commerce shows that 47,744 Johnston County workers – some 51.5 percent of the local workforce – commute to positions outside the county.
“Ours is a county in rapid transition,” explains Chris Johnson, director of the Johnston County Office of Economic Development. “We are a popular destination for new residents and home to an expanding base of industries and new jobs. But these two very positive trends are not always in alignment. JoCoCareers.org is designed to connect our growing population with exciting employment opportunities closer to home.”
JoCoCareers.org is an innovative, interactive platform that directs users to employers with open positions in a broad array of professional classifications. Private businesses, local governments and educational facilities are included. The portal begins with a brief survey of salary requirements, educational attainment levels and user preferences. It then guides employment seekers to local HR sites and, ultimately, online job application forms. Local leaders sweetened the process by adding the option for users to enter their name and email address for a drawing to receive gifts of local products. The site is designed to engage out-commuting workers residing in Johnston County as well as those across the Research Triangle Region who may be seeking new and better jobs.
“Among the permanent changes coming out of the pandemic is the desire to minimize commute times and create a better work/life balance,” Johnson says. “The most recent data shows that Johnston County workers commute on average just over 30 minutes to their jobs. So, this new tool is designed to address several emerging opportunities that can support our county’s continued population growth, economic diversification and quality of life.”
Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing that Johnston County’s population surged over the prior decade from about 169,000 to 216,000 residents – a nearly 28 percent rate that placed the county in the #1 position among North Carolina’s 100 counties for baseline growth. In 2021, companies establishing or expanding operations in the county included Amazon, Berry Global, Bartlett Milling and AdvanceTEC. In the past 12 months, Johnston County’s workforce increased by 5.4 percent to 102,702, according to the latest BLS figures.
The Johnston County Economic Development Office (JCEDO), which created the www.JoCoCareers.org website, facilitates value-added interaction between government, education and the private sector in encouraging and promoting job creation and economic investment in Johnston County. A unit of county government, JCEDO collaborates with local, regional and statewide partners and allies in providing confidential location assistance to businesses and technical support to the county’s 11 municipalities. Its menu of services includes customized digital mapping, labor and wage analysis, site readiness assistance and incentive packaging.