Is government an industry? That’s the question I asked myself as I reviewed page fourteen of the State of North Carolina Workforce: An Assessment of the State’s Labor Force Demand and Supply 2007-2017. The document, compiled by the North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development lists the 25 fastest growing industries in North Carolina over the next decade. To my surprise, state and local government was listed as the second (i.e., non-essential services) and the fourth (i.e., education services) fastest growing industries in the state. Together these “industries” are supposed to bring in about 58,600 more jobs to North Carolina over the next decade.
Oxford defines industry as “economic activity concerned with the processing of raw materials and manufacture of goods in factories." What does government manufacture or sell? Government is formed to protect and serve citizens. Businesses are designed to make a profit. Government may provide jobs through tax dollars. But government only redistributes money. It doesn’t create wealth nor contribute to economic vitality. Government? The number two and number four fastest growing industries? We can only hope this isn’t true. That it’s even mentioned on the list of the 25 fastest growing industries is evidence that such distinctions are blurred in the minds of many. They shouldn’t be.