Harold’s Blog: Local Economy & Cary 101 Grads

Cary, NC — This week was one of the slower weeks that I will have for the remainder of the year.

Monday I met virtually with the town manager for our weekly one-on-one. We talked about the Cary Tennis Park additions, the Cary Housing Plan, and reaction to the mask mandate. Our meeting was brief.

Cary Economy Updates from Ted Abernathy

Wednesday morning, I attended the Cary Chamber’s Eye Rise and Shine with Ted Abernathy. He is a Managing Partner of Economic Leadership LLC. His presentation provided a LOT of analysis of the county’s, state’s, and Cary’s economy. There were a LOT of interesting takeaways from his talk. Here are just a few:

  • Even without the pandemic there will be more disruption, change, and complexity with information going forward.
  • Jobs nationwide are at about 77.8% of pre-pandemic levels.
  • Consumer spending on goods is at an all time high while services have not, and may not, recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
  • North Carolina’s employment loss, due to the pandemic, was less than the national average.
  • North Carolina is one of four states that rank as the best states for business. Others are Texas, Georgia, and Tennessee.
  • The Raleigh Metro area has the highest job growth percentage in the state from 2010 to 2020.
  • The Raleigh Metro area has one of the lowest unemployment changes since the start of the pandemic.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic the Raleigh Metro area has had strong job growth in construction, trade, transport & utilities, professional services, and technical services. There have been major job losses in leisure & hospitality, government, and education & health services.
  • Cary’s highest unemployment rate during the pandemic was 4.7% and is now 3.1%. Raleigh was 7.0% and is now 4.1%.
  • Cary has continued to steadily add jobs the last 10 years and now employs 91,866.
  • Cary has seen almost equal permitting (in tax base) this year in residential and commercial.
  • Cary’s total permit value is at its second highest ever at over $381 million. In 2016 it was over $409 million.
  • The under 18 age population has declined by over a million is the last ten years in the US. This will have significant implications for future labor force.
  • North Carolina is seeing an increase in working population (age 25-64) while most of the Northeast is seeing a decline.
  • The Labor force has continued to decline since its peak in the early 2000s. Currently only 61.7% of the available work force is working. This is the lowest point since the mid-1970s.
  • Employers of childcare services are 10.4% less than pre-pandemic.
  • Over 15 million US workers have quit their jobs since April 2021.
  • A recent survey showed that 40% said they were somewhat likely to leave their current job within the next six months.
  • Remote working has been mostly for the upper income jobs. Only 1% of the bottom 10% of earners worked remote.
  • Home ownership affordability showed a national decline for the 5th consecutive month. The median US home price rose to $330,500 average which is a 21.6% change from the previous year.
  • Wake County towns are growing rapidly. Fuquay Varina has more residential permits than Raleigh or Cary this year. Their number one growth in permitting was followed by Raleigh, and Apex. Cary was sixth.
  • The average single-family home sold in Cary costs $430,920 which is the highest in Wake County. The price has gone up 40% in the last ten years.
  • Other Wake County municipalities and Raleigh are seeing much more multi-family units than Cary.
  • The number of multi-family units over $1000/monthly are increasing while under $1000/monthly are decreasing.
  • Renters from the top wage earner group has increased 40% in the last 30 years while the lowest wage earners have seen a decrease. Millennials are renting more than buying.
  • Automation will continue to accelerate even after the pandemic.
  • Eight out of ten workplaces will introduce the use of robots. There was a 64% jump in robot purchases in the 4th quarter of 2020.
  • Trends show that humans will be integrated with automation.
  • 63% of the workforce is made up of companies with more than 100 employees, 17.7% are companies with 20 to 99 employees, and 19% are companies with less than 20 employees.
  • There has been a sharp increase in new business applications since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • The urban-rural divide in technology is still a significant issue.
  • In North Carolina and most of the nation, Metro areas continue to grow while rural areas continue to lose population.
  • In North Carolina during 2020, 47% of jobs were in urban areas, 20% in suburban areas, and 33% in rural areas.
  • Rural areas continue to lose jobs in manufacturing, business services, and leisure & hospitality.
  • The Raleigh metro area is expected to see the biggest growth in North Carolina during the next ten years with an estimation of almost 20%.
  • North Carolina is ranked as one of the 15 worst states for impacts due to climate change.
  • The international trade gap is getting much worse. The number of ships stuck off docks and delays in getting goods is an example. These supply chain backlog issues will remain for months and maybe more than a year.
  • The average price to ship a 40-foot container from Asia to the US has more than doubled in the last year.
  • The national debt will be a growing problem as time progresses. It is currently on an unsustainable path. The national debt is now measured in trillions.
  • If you burned $100 every second it would take you 300 years to burn a trillion dollars. Our debt is much more than that.
  • There has been a big drop in students entering higher education which will create problems for employers trying to find skilled workers in the future.
  • Top wage earners have doubled their income in the last 50 years while lower income earners have remained relatively flat.
  • The median household income for Asians is $98,174, for whites $76,057, for Hispanic $56,113, and for blacks $45,438. Black and Latino households have a fraction of the wealth of white households.
  • Upper income families account for 79% of wealth, middle income 17%, and lower income 4%.
  • Predictions:
    • Affordability will drive an increased relocation of people and companies but not to rural areas
    • Workforce shortage will accelerate automation
    • Cluster strength becomes more important due to workforce depth
    • Supply chain targeting will be an increasing priority
    • Small business formation records will be set
    • Data analytics will have more influence on location decision for companies and people.

You can follow Ted Abernathy on Twitter @tedabernathy.

My biggest takeaways are that complex problems will become more complex (affordability, available workforce, housing, the supply chain, etc.) and that in this increasingly complex world, Cary has positioned itself to be one of the best places to live, work, play, and run a business.

Panel Discussion with Class of Cary 101

Wednesday evening, I had the joy of speaking on a panel to the Cary 101 class formerly called the School of Government. Our panel talked about each of the town’s nine boards, commissions, and committees. Afterwards, I had the honor of presenting diplomas to each 17 graduates some of which were virtual. If you are interested in learning how your town operates, the next Cary 101 class will be held in the spring.

Friday’s meeting with the North Carolina Metro Mayors was cancelled due to “very little of significance to municipalities” taking place. Our next meeting will be on November 12th.

Town Manger Report

The town manager, Sean Stegall’s report for this week included:

Sean’s Message

Epic Games has requested a special called meeting of the Council to hold the public hearing on its rezoning proposal given the limited number of regular meetings we have scheduled in November and December. We’ve determined that Tuesday, December 7th at 6:30 pm would work, so unless I hear otherwise from you, we will be moving forward to make this happen. Staff is identifying additional items for the agenda to take full advantage of the meeting.
With the upcoming holiday, we will not have a Council Weekly Report on the 12th. However, I will be sending you information early the following week in preparation for the Mini-Retreat, which I’m very much looking forward to. I will be on vacation next week, so please contact Deputy Town Manager Russ Overton if you need anything while I’m away.

Public Safety Update

There are currently five active cases among Cary town staff bringing the total to 168 since the pandemic began. Eighty-eight percent of full-time staff has been vaccinated. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Wake County is no long categorized as widespread transmission.

Cary 101 Graduation Event

On November 3, 17 citizens graduated from the 10-week citizen’s college known as Cary 101.  After covering local government basics in the “Civics 101” session, the remaining content focused on Cary’s operations, projects, programs and services. Before graduating, students heard from Mayor and Council Members regarding questions about Cary’s advisory boards, commission, and committees to help the Cary 101 participants gain a greater understanding of the work each board does in the community. Congratulations to the 2021 graduating class.

Cary Pedestrian Bridge Project

On November 4, over 50 people participated in the virtual public meeting for the Cary Parkway Pedestrian Bridge Project. Discussions included coordination efforts with the Black Creek Greenway Rehabilitation Project, anticipated greenway and roadway impacts, and suggestions for increased pedestrian connectivity outside the project limits. Learn more on the project website.

Cary First Christian Cemetery Ribbon Cutting

The Mayor and Council joined members of the Cary First Christian Church and Friends of Page-Walker at the church’s cemetery on October 30 to celebrate the restoration and interpretation work completed at the site.

Northwoods Jordan Mixed Use and First Baptist Church Development Update

The second-round development plan submittal has been received for the redevelopment of the former Northwoods Building site, 145 West Chatham Street, and surrounding property owned by Northwoods Jordan Building, LLC, First Baptist Church, and the Town of Cary. The development plans include a 240,000 sq. ft multi-family building, an 82,000 sq. ft commercial/office building, parking deck and associated public infrastructure including sidewalks, driveways, surface parking, and stormwater collection and detention facilities.

413 Kildaire Farm Road Building Demolition

The development team for the new Lee & Associates Headquarters at 413 Kildaire Farm Road is seeking a building permit to demolish the existing buildings at the corner of Walnut Street and Kildaire Farm Road. The redevelopment of the site will include a three-story, mixed-use building with office, retail, and restaurant uses. The plan also includes outdoor seating, a new landscaped median and turn lane on Kildaire Farm Road, an underground stormwater structure, and preservation of a 33.3” champion tree. Demolition of the existing buildings is anticipated to occur in the next few weeks.

October 2021 Development Pulse Report

The October 2021 Development Pulse is now available for review.


  • Bainbridge Cary Apartments, 915 Dudley Park Loop: Building permits have been approved for the new apartment development located at the southwest corner of NW Maynard Road and Chapel Hill Road. The development will include four buildings with a total of 259 apartment units, clubhouse, and garages. The development plan was approved August 2021 and site construction has started.
  • Dunkin Donuts at Preston Corners, 994 High House Road: The building permit has been approved for a new Dunkin Donuts at Preston Corners Shopping Center. The new business uses the existing drive-through on the west side of the existing shopping center building. The development plan for the project was approved August 2021.

Engaging with Local High School about Policing

On Thursday, the Reimagine Police Pledge work team virtually hosted a community engagement high school class from Cary Academy. As part of their curriculum, the class is learning about policing and criminal justice in our local community. The work team shared research and data that’s been collected so far and gave a preview of the different ways we intend to engage with various stakeholders in 2022. It was helpful to hear students’ perspective on the topic and illustrate community engagement in their community as an enrichment to their curriculum.

NCHSAA Cross Country Mideast Regional Event

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association recently held its Mideast Regional Cross Country meets at WakeMed Soccer Park on October 30 for all four classes consisting of the 1A, 2A, and 4A boys and girls. 609 runners from 83 schools participated, and individual and team champions will move onto the state championships.

Tennis On Campus Fall Regional Invitational

Cary Tennis Park hosted the Tennis on Campus Fall Regional Invitational October 28-30. More than 300 players from 48 colleges across the nation participated. Play started on Thursday morning using 25 outdoor courts and then moved to the covered courts when rain fell later in the day. The eventual tournament champion, Wisconsin, defeated Cornell in the finals.

Upcoming Meetings

Council Meeting
Thursday, November 9
6:30 pm

Historic Preservation Commission
Wednesday, November 10
6:30 pm

Veterans Day Observance
Veterans Freedom Park

Thursday, November 11
11:00 am

Mayor’s Mailbox

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Criticism from those who support mask mandates. Comments include “Do you believe Cary and its residents are living in a BUBBLE?”, “Are you so naïve?”, “Have you known of anyone who was very ill or died from COVID? Apparently you have NOT!”, “SHAME ON YOU”. (BTW, I have had relatives die from COVID)
  • Thanks from those who oppose mask mandates.
  • A request to have EMS ambulance and paramedic crews as part of Cary Fire Departments.
  • A concern about unnecessary paving of neighborhoods of Berkley, Hadley Place, and Somerset. (Staff response included: “… Every year we have our streets rated based on their condition by a third party, independent consultant. They note different pavement defects like cracking. These ratings can be categorized as very good, good, fair, poor, and very poor. This data is also the foundation for our street repaving program. When we go into a neighborhood, we are looking to repave the segments rated poor or very poor. This keeps us from having construction in the neighborhood year after year while maintaining our assets as needed. … it gets exponentially more expensive to maintain streets/pavement as they degrade further and further. …”)
  • A complaint about trash on the American Tobacco Trail after a race event.
  • A request to have charitable gift-wrapping service notification on this blog (If you know of any please let me know)
  • A complaint from a vendor about safety protocols at the Fest in the West Event (this was resolved)
  • A request for Cary’s vehicles to all be electric (We are moving that direction with many vehicles including an electric garbage truck and electric police cars)

Next week’s activities include staff meetings, VFW Presidential Banquet, Hometown Spirit Award Reception, the only regularly scheduled council meeting of the month, a meeting with Congresswoman Ross, a North Carolina Metro Mayors meeting, and the First United Methodist Church 150th Anniversary Veterans Day event.

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, November 14th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to [email protected] and email personal comments to [email protected].

From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Images from Town of Cary.

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1 reply
  1. Nita Casar
    Nita Casar says:

    I am wondering when more off street bike paths/green ways will be constructed and connected to existing Caru bike paths/greenways.We need them in SW Cary.

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