If you feel secure in your current job, here’s something that may give you pause:

New analysis by NC State University suggests that jobs in some 39 major current employment categories in our state are at least 70% likely to be eliminated within one generation as a result of automation.

The so-called Disruption Index for North Carolina finds that low-wage jobs are especially at risk.

The index that was developed for this year’s Emerging Issues Forum also finds that on average, North Carolina counties face the potential loss of more than 25% of their current jobs as a result of automation, robots and future technologies.

According to the index, counties poised to take the greatest hit include: Watauga (41% predicted percentage of job losses), Carteret (40%), Dare (40%), Johnston (40%), Buncombe (39%) and Catawba (39%).  See the interactive map below for anticipated job and wage loss.

Anita Brown-Graham, director of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), joins us this weekend to discuss the index and the focus of FutureWork. Click below for a preview of her interview with Chris Fitzsimon.

Monday’s Emerging Issues Forum will be streamed live on the web and broadcast on UNC-TV.

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Friday marks the 23rd anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act. The federal law signed by then-President Bill Clinton required covered employers provide their workers with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical reasons.

Allan Freyer, director of the NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project, says while the 1993 law provided important protections for workers, improvements should be made.

According to Freyer,  Congress is currently debating the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1439/S. 786) that could provide workers with family medical leave insurance.  In exchange for a small premium of less than $5 a week, workers would receive a meaningful portion of their incomes for up to 12 weeks while they take time off to welcome a newborn or adopted child or provide care for family members suffering from serious health conditions.

Polling conducted in August by Public Policy Polling found 62 percent of North Carolinians surveyed support guaranteeing paid medical leave.

Click below to hear more from Freyer on the growing support for paid medical leave. To learn more about the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, click here.

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Commentary, News

1. Controversial plan to allow for-profit charter school takeovers of low-performing NC schools re-emerges

Achievement school districts may be reporting mixed numbers in other states, but the controversial reform model—which could effectively turn over management of low-performing public schools, including hiring and firing powers, to for-profit charter operators—seems bound for a pilot program in North Carolina.

Republican education leaders in the North Carolina House’s Select Committee on Achievement School Districts met for the first time Wednesday, with plans to convene two more meetings in February and March before making a legislative recommendation.

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2. The real test of McCrory’s commitment to helping the mentally ill

Governor Pat McCrory is garnering praise these days for the recommendations to improve mental health services being considered by a task force he created—and he deserves it. McCrory has spoken out passionately about the need for better support and treatment for people with a mental illness or addiction since he became governor in 2013.

But there’s an undercurrent to the work of the task force that McCrory appointed that is sadly familiar and threatens to undercut the progress on mental health that McCrory says publicly that North Carolina needs to make.

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3. The Right’s disingenuous propaganda about “choice”

There’s one thing you’ve got to hand to the politicians, pundits and plutocrats driving the modern American conservative movement: They are genuine champs when it comes to “branding” and pasting smiley faces on policies designed to favor the wealthy, while dividing and excluding everyone else.

In area after area, conservative advocates take hoary ideas traceable to creaky and privileged European theorists of bygone centuries and gussy them up with labels like “rights,” “liberty,” “freedom” and “choice.”

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4. McCrory makes a political decision to listen to a local government—for a change

It’s not very often that a governor issues a press release touting the benefits of a new economic development project his administration has negotiated and then two weeks later says the project is no longer viable, but that’s exactly what Gov. Pat McCrory has done.

The reversal on the proposed CSX railroad hub in Johnston County came after the county commissioners voted to oppose the project after local residents complained about plans by the company to use the power of eminent domain to force property owners to sell their land.

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5. North Carolina now unprepared for next recession

When last week’s blizzard hit, North Carolinians got another reminder that tough times are easier to handle if you’re prepared. Those who stocked up on food and made sure they had a good snow shovel fared best.

It’s the same with the economy. The preparations, of course, are different. What a state needs to weather hard times can’t be bought in stores. We depend on our elected officials to make decisions in good times that will help us get through an economic storm. And the distressing reality is that actions they’ve taken in the past few years actually leave North Carolina more vulnerable – not less.

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Commentary, News

Governor Pat McCrory and other state leaders continue to tout the Carolina Comeback, their name for the economic recovery in the state.

But the numbers tell a different story with workers earning less and many people in rural counties unable to find a job at all.

Economist Jared Bernstein, a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, was in Raleigh recently to talk about the state and national economy and how policymakers can help struggling families.

“You have to invest in the future. And investing in the future doesn’t just means creating a business climate that business like by cutting their taxes,” explained Bernstein. “Once you start whacking away at your tax base so that you can improve this idea of business climate in the near term, you really risk undermining the ability to drive future productivity in the long term.”

Bernstein joins us this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon.

Click below to hear Bernstein explain why North Carolina’s politicians should spend less time talking about business climate rankings and spend more time focused on public investments.

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Several immigrant rights groups across the Triangle will stage a vigil this afternoon to protest recent immigrant raids. This event is one of several actions occurring simultaneously across the Southeast. In Washington, DC members of the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN) will be delivering a petition of 66,000 signatures asking President Obama to stop the raids.

Here’s more from the folks at El Pueblo, one of the organizers of the event in Raleigh:

Today at 5pm, grassroots leaders will be organizing a community vigil to demonstrate solidarity with the children and families who have been detained as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s recent immigrant raids. Speakers will include members of the Latino community who have been personally affected by the deportations, and attendees are asked to bring white balloons, kites and teddy bears to represent the children who are being forced back to their home countries.

The vigil will take place outside of the Wake County Detention Center, at 3301 Hammond Rd in Raleigh.

At the end of the holiday season, The Department of Homeland Security began increasing raids against Central American children and families who entered the country after January 1st, 2014. The DHS has since elaborated on the matter, saying that their priority targets include those who have been issued final orders of removal and have exhausted all legal remedies.
Several immigrant rights groups in the Triangle, including Hendfact, Si a Las Licencias and El Pueblo, have spoken out against the raids, condemning the detention and deportation of families as an act of violence.

“The DHS is ignoring the refugee conditions of these children and families, forcing them back into areas that have been greatly affected by drug wars,” says Iliana Santillán, community organizer for El Pueblo. “To send a child back into such conditions goes against our very core values, and we’re assembling here to speak on behalf of those who have been refused sanctuary by this government.”

When: Wednesday, January 27th from 5-8pm.
Where: Wake County Detention Center, 3301 Hammond Rd, Raleigh NC 27610