HAMLET — According to the most recent figures released from the N.C. Department of Commerce, more than 23,000 jobs were created in the state between December 2015 and January 2016, with the largest two sectors of employment being government and leisure and hospitality. Each of the two sectors created 5,000 new jobs in January.
Although hospitality and government created the same number of jobs, the long-term stability of the jobs may be very different. Many jobs in the tourist sector tend to be seasonal. However, jobs in the government sector tend to be more permanent.
Furthermore, while jobs in the hospitality sector tend to be toward the lower end of the pay scale — with minimal benefits — jobs in the government sector tend to be in the medium range of the pay scale, often with significant benefits.
Government jobs within North Carolina exist at the federal, state and local level. In fact, government employees represent the second-largest employment sector in the state, after the trade, transportation and utilities sector.
Government jobs, also known as public-sector jobs, represent one of the few employment sectors that continue to offer pension plans for their retired employees. Most private-sector employers have replaced pension plans with 401(k) plans.
One of the main problems with 401(k) plans is that many private-sector employees struggle to contribute to the plan, particularly in recent years given the economic challenges. However, public sector employees often have a respectable pension income to look forward to when they retire.
Moreover, public-sector jobs are not likely to disappear anytime soon, regardless of who occupies the Executive Mansion in Raleigh or the White House.
North Carolina residents recently voted to allow the state to borrow $2 billion for infrastructure improvements. This, too, is an indication of the strength of the state public-sector jobs in the near future.
Many colleges and universities — including Richmond Community College — have recognized the employment opportunities in the public sector and have started public administration degree and certificate programs. As an added incentive to encourage people to develop skills in this growing area, most of the public administration classes are offered online.
Given the benefits of public sector employments, college officials encourage residents to give it some serious consideration. For more information about the public administration program at RichmondCC, call 910-410-1700 or visit www.richmondcc.edu.
Dr. Devon Hall is chairman of the business department at Richmond Community College.