Economic Data Dashboard

North Carolina and U.S. Unemployment Rates

The economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented and almost instantaneous increases in the unemployment rate. The below figure shows the dramatic rise in unemployment in February 2020 and the subsequent month’s relative improved unemployment numbers.

Note: Unemployment is defined as people who are jobless, actively seeking work, and available to take a job. The official unemployment rate is the number of unemployed as a percentage of the labor force (the sum of the employed and unemployed). 

North Carolina Change in QCEW Establishment Employment by County

The Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for North Carolina uses data from unemployment insurance tax returns that are filed by employers. The QCEW data cover more than 95 percent of the establishment jobs and are considered the most reliable source of employment activity. Importantly and unlike the monthly estimates, these numbers are available for all 100 North Carolina counties. This provides the ability to take a county-by-county examination of the COVID-19 pandemic employment impact across North Carolina. 

North Carolina Change in Establishment Employment by Sectors

Page 1: The below figure shows the percent change in key sectors of establishment unemployment in North Carolina from February 2020 to June 2022. 

Page 2: The below visual further breaks down percent changes in establishment employment sectors over time, compared to the February 2020 sector total. 

Note: Establishment employment is defined as the total number of persons who work in or for the establishment including working proprietors, active business partners, and unpaid family workers, as well as persons working outside the establishment when paid by the establishment (e.g., sales representatives, outside service engineers, and repair and maintenance personnel).

North Carolina Hospitalization Rate

The variants of COVID-19 continue to impact North Carolinians.  NCPRO monitors several COVID-related indicators so that we are positioned to anticipate and avoid any future COVID-induced disruptions in the economy.  While case counts vary across the state and most measures show a relatively low negative impact from the virus, daily hospital utilization has drifted upward since the April 2022 pandemic low.

North Carolina's Pandemic Recovery: Data Resource Guide

NCPRO created a data resource guide to help our partners make data searching more efficient. While the resources cover a variety of popular data categories, it does not represent an exhaustive list. It is possible to assign data into different categories; for example, wage rates can be labeled under Business & Industry or Workforce. The resource guide includes the following data categories: 

  • Businesses & Industry: general industry data and specific industry data
  • Government COVID-19 relief spending 
  • Economic: regional economic conditions, gross state product, income, economic opportunity and equity across regions, and inflation
  • Healthcare: Covid vaccination rates, hospitalizations, and healthcare workforce data
  • Housing & Construction: housing permits, construction activity, and sales activity
  • Social: education, crime, population, demographics, and poverty
  • Workforce: wages and unemployment rates.

In addition, the NC Department of Commerce has developed a dedicated research manual specifically focused on economic issues which offers a wealth of information covering various topics including labor market data, state industry profiles, grants, incentive programs, and more. 

Data Resource Guide

Tab/Accordion Items

Annual Survey of Manufacturers (U.S. Census Bureau)

The Annual Survey of Manufacturers provides detailed data about the manufacturing industry including employees, payroll, inputs, and production for the manufacturing industry (NAICS codes 31-33). The survey provides state-level data, along with national data. 

Business Statistics

The Business Formation Statistics (BFS) are a standard data product of the U.S. Census Bureau. The BFS provides timely and high frequency information on new business applications and formations in the U.S. 

Business Surveys

The Small Business Pulse Survey (SBPS) measures the effect of changing business conditions during the Coronavirus pandemic on our nation's small businesses. It has also proven valuable in measuring the impact of other major events such as hurricanes on our nation’s small businesses.

The North Carolina Business Engagement Survey aims to collect, measure, and analyze near real-time data on the unique challenges, opportunities, and economic conditions that business leaders are experiencing at the local level. Launched in October 2023 and conducted by researchers at East Carolina University, the survey is sent via email and includes questions on several topics important to a successful business environment, including access to a skilled workforce, infrastructure, and supply chains. Surveys will continue to be sent on a quarterly basis to help measure changes over time and identify regional trends.

Current Employment Statistics (CES)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics CES program provides monthly estimates of employment, hours, and earnings for the Nation, State, and Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA). The information is from a monthly survey of employers collecting data from payroll records of business establishments. CES data for North Carolina can be accessed via the NC Department of Commerce D4 CES page.

Economic Census (U.S. Census Bureau)

The Economic Census is the U.S. Government's official five-year measure of American business and the economy. It is conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, and response is required by law. These reports serve as a major source of facts about the structure and functioning of the nation’s economy. 

Industry Classification (North American Industrial Classification System [NAICS])

One of the most important parts of any industry research is determining how industries are classified. Most industry data are now organized by NAICS code, although some sources still use Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes. NAICS code search is available through the Census Bureau.

New Business Starts and Failures (Business Dynamics)

The U.S. Census Bureau provides a variety of data on businesses by State, County and MSA, including data related to new business starts and failures through the Business Dynamics Statistics Explorer tool

Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)

QCEW is a good place to start if you’re looking for general data on the number of establishments or employees in a region broken out by industry. QCEW can be accessed via the NC Department of Commerce D4 QCEW page.

QCEW data is also available for other states and nationally via the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Industry Reports (EDPNC)

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) provides industry reports. 

Industry Profiles (Duke University)

Duke University’s North Carolina in the Global Economy (NCGE) project produces detailed information and reports on seven of the top industries in North Carolina. Please note that these reports are dated, but some of the historical information can still be helpful and relevant. 

Travel and Tourism

 Visit North Carolina, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, provides various measures of the tourism industry in North Carolina

Visit North Carolina also offers tourism data by county and by year.


The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has a variety of resources and information on the biotech industry in the state. 

General Information

The Small Business Technology Development Center provides a variety of resources and data for small business owners

The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) provides data on business size and dynamics at the national and state levels

The SBA also provides small business profiles for the states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. 


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (SBTT) grants are highly competitive grants focused on small business R&D. The SBA provides data on past awards by state and by company.

Venture Capital

PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association provide quarterly data on the U.S. venture capital investment activity by state. 
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The Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker combines anonymized data from leading private companies – from credit card processors to payroll firms – to provide a real-time picture of indicators such as employment rates, consumer spending, and job postings across counties, industries, and income groups. 

Brooking’s Metro Recovery Index presents data across a variety of indicators to provide a picture of the impact of the crisis (compared to a pre-crisis state) and the trajectory of recent change, for both large and midsized U.S. metropolitan areas. The indicators track impacts and trajectories in three major categories: the labor market, the real estate market, and other areas of economic activity. 

Brooking's Metro Monitor provides a look of how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted inclusive economic growth across 192 U.S. metro areas with populations of at least 250,000. This data interactive provides decisionmakers in the nation’s largest metro areas with a roadmap to understand how their individual places performed during this period.  

The COVID-19 webpage provides detailed tracking of federal government spending related to the COVID-19 pandemic response. The interactive data visualizations and charts allow users to examine how federal funding has been allocated and spent, broken down in multiple ways such as by federal agency, recipient, expenditures over time, etc. The site aims to promote transparency and accountability around the significant government relief and stimulus spending during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Pandemic Oversight's Dashboards and Datasets could be used by researchers, journalists, policymakers, and the public to understand how the U.S. government allocated and spent funds related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some federal agencies provide more detailed information about the programs they administer than is required on This website supplements these datasets with visualizations and data stories to provide additional context.

NCPRO's COVID-19 Funding Dashboard would be useful for North Carolina residents, government officials, researchers, and journalists who want to understand and track how COVID-19 relief funding from various sources has been allocated and spent within the state. The interactive dashboard provides transparency around the billions of dollars North Carolina has received in federal and state COVID-19 relief funding since 2020, breaking down the amounts, sources, recipients, and spending categories. Users can analyze the data for funding totals, trends, and details on where and how pandemic-related funds have been used. 

COVID Hospitalizations and Vaccines

NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Respiratory Virus Summary Dashboard tracks information about North Carolinians with contagious respiratory viruses that can cause cold symptoms or severe breathing problems, including COVID-19, the flu (Influenza), and RSV. North Carolina Respiratory Virus Summary Dashboard would be especially useful to researchers interested in the spread of respiratory viruses throughout the state of NC.  Data is available for respiratory virus-related hospital admissions, emergency room visits, ICU patients, hospital bed availability and COVID-19 wastewater monitoring. 

NCDHHS COVID-19 Vaccinations Dashboard tracks the rate of covid vaccination rates across North Carolina. The NCDHHS COVID-19 Vaccinations Dashboard would likely be most useful for public health experts, researchers, and government agencies studying COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts. Please note that the final update to this dashboard was on April 26, 2023 and is no longer being updated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 data tracker website provides up-to-date data on COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations across the United States at the national, state, and county levels. The interactive map shows new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population by county over the past 7 days. This shows which areas currently have high or low rates of new hospital admissions due to COVID-19. 

Healthcare Workforce

The Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy (PHWRP) conducts rigorous studies on the healthcare workforce at national, state, and regional levels, compiling data on health professional shortages, training programs, and policies aimed at encouraging providers to work in underserved areas. PHWRP data sets would be especially valuable for those interested in the healthcare workforce and healthcare access issues. Researchers across disciplines - public health, economics, public policy, and medicine - could utilize the PHWRP's quantitative and qualitative data collections to inform studies on healthcare labor markets, educational policies, and geographic distribution of providers. 

Building Permits (Residential)

The U.S. Census Bureau provides data on building permits at several geographic levels including national, regional, state, MSA, and county. The data, however, is for residential construction only. 

Home Sales & Prices

The National Association of Realtors provides data both on pending home sales and existing home sales available at the regional level only.

Zillow offers a smooth, seasonally adjusted measure of the typical home value and market changes across a given region and housing type. 

Redfin has direct access to data from local multiple listing services and is able to provide data on the state of the housing market

S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller is one of the most cited home price indices. While it does provide helpful information about housing trends, it tracks only the Charlotte market in North Carolina

Housing & Construction (General)

The American Housing Survey, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, provides many different measures of housing across the country. 

Housing Vacancy & Homeownership

The U.S. Census Bureau produces housing vacancy and homeownership data, as well as characteristics of units available for occupancy. State and MSA-level data are available quarterly. 

Census Data 

The U.S. Census Bureau provides incredible amounts of data from the national level to neighborhood areas. In addition to population, there are housing, business, and economic data. Currently, results from the 2020 decennial census are available. 

The Explore Census Data tool provides tables on multiple geographies and topics as well as data profiles, maps and visualizations and industry data. 

The American Community Survey (ACS) is an ongoing survey that provides data every year — giving communities the current information they need to plan investments and services.

The U.S. Census Bureau produces data on social and economic effects of coronavirus on American households. This survey collects data to measure household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic. 


The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation compiles NC crime statistics

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) generates crime statistics for all 50 states


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. 

The Department of Public Instruction provides a great deal of information on North Carolina public schools, such as data and statistics, testing and accountability results, and current and historical SAT scores by county. 

The Division of Non-Public Education of the North Carolina Department of Administration provides resources and statistics for home schools and private schools

The North Carolina Community College System provides a variety of resources, data, and information related to North Carolina’s community colleges. 

The University of North Carolina (UNC) System provides access to downloadable reports and data tables as well as interactive data tools on enrollment, degrees, transfer students, freshman admissions and performance. 

The UNC System County Connections has an interactive map of 100 counties providing a snapshot of how the 16 universities contribute to both the urban and rural parts of the state. The fact sheets provide the number of undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in the UNC System institutions, number of UNC System employees residing in each county, and total dollars in economic impact made through the NC Cooperative Extension. 

The U.S. Department of Education provides a College Scorecard by institutions on student completion, debt and repayment, earnings and more. 

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce ranks Return on Investment (ROI) of 4,500 U.S. Colleges and Universities. 

The myFutureNC Educational Attainment Dashboard, created by Carolina Demography for myFutureNC, illustrates the progress of North Carolina towards achieving its 2030 goal of having 2 million adults aged 25-44 with a postsecondary degree or credential. It encompasses 18 educational performance indicators that cover key transition points from NC Pre-K through college completion and into the labor market. The data sources for each indicator were identified by researchers from Carolina Demography in consultation with experts from various institutions, including the UNC System, NC Community College System, North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, NC Department of Public Instruction, NC Department of Commerce, and NC Department of Health and Human Services. 


BEARFACTS is the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) Regional Fact Sheet about an area's personal income and gross domestic product. Data is available at the state, county, and MSA levels

The Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) produces single-year estimates of income and poverty for all U.S. states and counties as well as estimates of school-age children in poverty for all 13,000+ school districts. 

Population, Migration, & Demographics

The Office of State Budget and Management provides current and historical state, county, and municipal population estimates and future projections.

QuickFacts, from the U.S. Census Bureau, also provides a quick and easy way to pull population and demographic data for the state, counties, and cities.

Carolina Demography provides population-level data and other available research providing context and perspective to people working in North Carolina.

Poverty Rates

The Census Bureau’s Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) are produced for school districts, counties, and states. The main objective of this program is to provide updated estimates of income and poverty statistics for the administration of federal programs and the allocation of federal funds to local jurisdictions.

This is the “catch-all” category for data and resources related to economics, workforce, and industry. 

The Carolina Tracker project is an online site offering day-to-day information on how North Carolinians’ lives have changed since the onset of the pandemic. Produced by faculty, staff, and students in the department of city and regional planning in UNC-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts & Sciences, the Carolina Tracker presents easy-to-use, publicly available data for policymakers and North Carolinians to use. Datasets available at the Carolina Tracker site include:

  • Layoffs, labor force participation, and unemployment insurance
  • Small business revenue, business closures, office space vacancy and local tax revenue
  • Vehicle travel, commuting and personal mobility
  • Evictions, home sales, construction, and foreclosure filings
  • Childcare, police stop, and air quality.

The North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office Economic Data Dashboard is a useful resource for anyone interested in viewing and analyzing key economic indicators for the state of North Carolina. The interactive dashboard provides easy access to data on employment, income, GDP, population, and other metrics. The website also provides a monthly summary report of key economic indicators for North Carolina, including unemployment, labor force statistics, jobs data, and tax revenue information. These reports would be useful for anyone wanting a concise overview of recent economic trends and statistics for North Carolina.

Gross Domestic Product

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of all final goods and services produced in the state and is often used as a gauge of economic health. GDP is produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) and is also available for select metropolitan statistical areas. 


Consumer Price Index (CPI)

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) produces the Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures changes in prices of consumer goods and services. It is one of the key measures of inflation. 

Producer Price Index (PPI)

The BLS also produces the Producer Price Index to track prices at a wholesale or producer level. PPI is only available at the national level. 

Cost of Living Calculators

There are many different cost of living calculators available online. Sperling’s Best Places Cost of Living Calculator provides a simple and easy-to-use comparison tool. The comparison tool also breaks down the difference by category, including food, housing, utilities, transportation, and health cost of living numbers. MIT's Living Wage calculator provides living wage reports for each county in North Carolina.

Inflation Calculators 

The U.S. Inflation Calculator provides current and historical monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) data back to 1913. 

Regional Business Conditions

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond provides research and data covering economic issues affecting North Carolina and surrounding states. The Bank produces monthly snapshots of business conditions in North Carolina, plus regional surveys of business activity in the Carolinas. The regional surveys generate information on business employment and wages trends as well as manufacturing activity of employment, wages, shipments, local business conditions, etc.

In connection with the above, several times a year, the Federal Reserve Banks consolidate their views on the state of the economy in each bank region in what is known as the Beige Book, which can be a useful data source for regional economic conditions around the country. 

Wells Fargo also produces state-level economic reports for several states in which it has a significant presence, including North Carolina. 

Retail Sales

The North Carolina Department of Revenue provides monthly and annual (fiscal year) sales and use tax reports by county.

The NC Commerce D4 site also provides retail sales data in Area Profile PDF Reports. To generate the report on the Commuting and Area profiles page, use the drop down menus to select Area Profile as the Report Type, then select the county for which to download the report. Retail Sales information is located in the Commercial/Retail/Industrial section of the Area Profile PDF Report. 

State and Community Demographic Data

The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) provides a tool to explore the states and community’s demographic, occupations, labor expenditures, and other related information

StatsAmerica provides easy-to-use, actionable data for economic and community developers to prepare for site requests for information (RFIs), grant requests, metrics, strategic plans, and other activities. It includes a useful set of tools and reports for data related to population, housing and households, income, labor force, educational attainment, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment and wages, as well as Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) employment and earnings.