WNC organizations release results of regional workforce survey

August 31, 2022


2022 State of Our Workforce: Western NC talent analysis received 795 completed responses from employers in 10 WNC counties

Full survey report available here

On August 26, 2022, partner organizations released key findings from the 2022 State of Our Workforce: Western NC talent analysis, a survey reviewing workforce needs of employers in 10 Western North Carolina counties.

Overall, respondents to the 2022 survey anticipated hiring between 22,150 and 44,140 total new employees over the next three years.

“For a second time, the State of Our Workforce Survey has offered insight on the growing talent needs of employers in our area,” said Kit Cramer, President and CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to using the data to help guide our efforts to create a stronger, more diverse workforce over the next several years.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to join with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Land of Sky P-20 Council, RTI International and many other organizations across Western North Carolina to deliver the most comprehensive and timely view of employer workforce needs,” said Nathan Ramsey, Executive Director of Land of Sky Regional Council and Director of the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board. “The results of this survey are a reminder that talent development is key to increasing economic opportunity and business growth in Western North Carolina.”

“Without this type of insight into the employer needs of our region, we are left guessing on how to properly prepare their Workforce,” said Emily Nicholson, Executive Director of the Land of Sky P-20 Council. “Instead, this survey is an effective way to establish a baseline and plan accordingly.”

Other key findings from the survey:

  • Western North Carolina employers’ expectations for business growth remain as strong as they were in 2018, despite challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Over two-thirds of employers expect their workforces to grow in the next three years.
  • There is a wide range of demand for workers who hold credentials ranging from GEDs and high school diplomas to two- and four-year college degrees, as well as certificates and apprenticeships.
  • Employers continue to rely about on friends and networks for talent recruitment at a similar rate to our 2018 survey, but have increased utilization of other tools like online job portals, social media, and career fairs to reach a broader and more diverse talent pool.
  • Employers view cost and availability of housing, wages, and employee access to child care as the most significant obstacles to talent recruitment and retention.
  • Employers expressed a broad need for employers with industry-specific skills and credentials as well as key soft skills including responsibility and self-discipline, taking initiative, critical thinking, and communication skills.

“Employers across Western North Carolina have had to adapt to a rapidly shifting economy, and the last two years have changed how employers source, recruit, and retain talent,” said Michael Hogan, Research Economist at RTI International. “In the survey, they express a growing openness to certificates, apprenticeships, high school degrees, and credentials beyond a traditional two-year or four-year degree and are more likely to look to wider networks to recruit more diverse talent. The data shows that demand for skilled workers will remain high and employers in growing industries including manufacturing and health care will continue to add positions at all skill levels, while affordable housing remains a persistent obstacle for employers looking to grow their workforce.”

The 2022 State of Our Workforce: Western NC survey ran from March 15 – May 31, 2022, collecting 795 completed responses and 548 additional partial responses from participants in a 10-county region of Western North Carolina, which included Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, Transylvania, and Yancey Counties. It asked employer respondents about their expectations for growth, the skills and training they need most in workers, and how they intend to source their future workforces over the next three years. The survey was previously conducted in Western North Carolina in 2018, offering several points of pre-pandemic comparison to the 2022 results.

The 2022 State of Our Workforce: Western NC survey was led in partnership among the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, and the Land of Sky P-20 Council. The survey was operated by RTI International, an independent nonprofit institute headquartered in Research Triangle, North Carolina.

Results from the survey are public and available for use with attribution. Western North Carolina organizations are encouraged to use them for workforce development, economic development, public policy development, and strategic planning purposes.

To review the 2022 State of Our Workforce: Western NC data report, visit the survey webpage here.


For more than 120 years, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst for economic vitality in our community. The Asheville Chamber connects more than 1,500 member organizations, both large and small, representing more than 80,000 employees, to valuable resources such as economic development and research, business education, marketing opportunities and advocacy. Asheville Chamber initiatives have stimulated economic development, influenced public policy and supported the growth of thousands of local and regional businesses. Learn more at ashevillechamber.org.