North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, or Triangle, region has long been famous as a locus of some of the country’s most well-regarded academic institutions. Indeed, its education sector is a key component in the area’s highly stable economic foundation, which also includes employment sectors in technology, industry, medicine, and government. Between 1990 and 1998, in fact, the market enjoyed the nation’s sixth-largest employment gain. Since 1990, the Triangle area has also consistently been one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas. The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill MSA population (which includes Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston, Franklin, and Chatham counties) eclipsed the 1 million mark in the past 10 to 15 years and currently stands at 1,589,388.
Raleigh-Durham’s twin strengths in job and population growth make it an especially appealing venue for multifamily professionals. More importantly, the area’s employment diversity indicates it is poised to take advantage of an anticipated economic recovery.
Like many MSAs, the Triangle wasn’t immune to the nation’s recent economic recession; however, during a period when most metros were suffering significant job losses, the Triangle remained stable. A net of more than 9,500 jobs were created in the past year, helping push the unemployment rate down to its current 7.9 percent—which continues to be below the state and national averages—after peaking at 11.4 percent in January 2010. Employment in the region is now 1.7 percent higher than it was three months ago, 1.8 percent higher than six months back, and 2.3 percent higher than a year ago.
Employment growth continues to be fueled by the professional/business sector—reflecting the area’s important tech industry—anchored by Research Triangle Park (RTP), which has shown continued job expansion in six of the past eight months, concurrent with the nation’s strong post-recession tech rebound.