Improving Business in the Wilmington Region

Workforce and Employment


Greater Wilmington’s diverse economy, welcoming communities and stellar quality-of-life account for our fast-growing population and ready workforce. Between 2010 and 2020, our MSA grew by 25 percent – more than 84,500 new residents. Within a four-county radius of downtown Wilmington lies a labor pool of approximately 225,000. This talent base includes people at every stage of life and career.

Our engaged public schools and private academies are at the forefront of tomorrow’s workforce needs. This is particularly true when it comes to producing human capital equipped with skills and knowledge in the sciences, technology, engineering and math-related subjects (“STEM”). In recent years, for instance, Wilmington Business Development has partnered with Corning Inc., one of the region’s leading manufacturers, in awarding an annual Award for Excellence in STEM Education to pioneering local teachers. The honor highlights the close partnership among the region’s business community, educational leaders and economic development advocates, all of whom share a commitment to keeping Greater Wilmington’s workforce ready for the opportunities of tomorrow.

The collaborative efforts of educators, businesses and community leaders also can be seen in the engaged posture of Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) and the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

CFCC has a 60+ year track record of providing free and flexible training that meets the evolving needs of arriving and expanding employers. Strong support from elected officials – and voters – in New Hanover and Pender counties has resulted in state-of-the-art learning spaces across Cape Fear’s main campus in downtown Wilmington, as well as its North Campus, a 145-acre site opened in 2005. Today, over 24,000 students pursue education and training across CFCC’s technical curricula, academic programs and continuing education offerings. Companies partnering with the college range from GE-Hitachi to Verizon Wireless.

UNC Wilmington enrolls over 18,000 graduate and undergraduate students. Its competitive admissions standards yield a population of high-achieving learners from across southeastern North Carolina and 18 foreign countries. UNCW is home to 59 bachelors-level curricula and 37 master’s degree programs. The University’s Cameron School of Business, in addition to producing well-qualified graduates in business analytics, information systems and supply-chain management, hosts a busy calendar of professional development and executive education offerings. UNCW growing list of 5 doctoral programs enrolls top students in marine biology, educational leadership, psychology, nursing practice and pharmaceutical chemistry. The University is routinely ranked among the Southeast’s top learning institutions by leading national publications.

Unemployment rates/Labor force & wages

The Greater Wilmington Region has historically experienced unemployment rates at or below state and national averages.  As of  November 2023 , the following counties reflect these unemployment rates New Hanover 3.1%, Pender 3.3%, Brunswick 4.2%.

For historical data and more in depth analysis of the labor force please click here to access the North Carolina Employment Security Commissions Labor Market Division also known as D4 (Demand Driven Data Delivery System).  In addition to further information about the state, you can also choose either New Hanover or Pender Counties from the drop down menu on the left side of the screen.


According to the United States Department of Labor, North Carolina is the 2nd lowest unionization rate in the country at only 2.6%. Click here to read the full report.

Household income

According to the US Census Bureau, New Hanover County has a median household income of $67,515 and Pender County has a median household income of $74,538.  Please click on each county to view their US Census Fact Finder pages which provide additional pertinent information.

For more in depth data on Demographics please click here. Once on the Site Selection page you can choose a property in New Hanover or Pender County and select the appropriate tab to view workforce, demographics, labor force, consumer expenditures, wages, businesses, talent, city & county profiles.