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Are North Carolina Businesses Using AI? A Look at Current Use and Future Projections

Explore the potential impact of artificial intelligence on North Carolina's business practices through our analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. This blog examines AI adoption rates, applications, and employment trends, offering insights into AI's potential effects on industry and workforce needs.

Author: Maggie Smith

The impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on industries and work environments depends on its integration into business processes. To better understand and prepare for potential shifts in business needs, we analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data from the Business Trends and Outlook Survey, which asked businesses across the nation about AI utilization in the production of goods and services. Below we explore AI adoption rates, applications, and employment trends in North Carolina.

Current and Future AI Adoption Rates

AI integration among North Carolina businesses remains moderate, with only 5.1% currently utilizing AI—closely aligning with the national average of 5.0%. Among southeastern states, North Carolina has the second highest current AI usage rate, trailing Florida's leading 6.6% (Figure 1). Mississippi has the lowest AI adoption rate at 1.7%.  Looking ahead, businesses in the Southeast and across the nation anticipate a modest increase in AI adoption over the next six months. North Carolina is projected to see an increase to 6.6%, maintaining its second-place ranking. These trends indicate that a significant number of North Carolina businesses are neither currently using AI nor planning to adopt it in the near future.

Figure 1. North Carolina AI Adoption Ranks Second in the Southeast

Applications of AI Among North Carolina Businesses

Among businesses planning to adopt AI in the next six months, the main anticipated applications are marketing automation, natural language processing, virtual agents or chatbots, data analytics, and text analytics, aligning generally with national trends (Figure 2). Unfortunately, data on sector-specific utilization of these applications is unavailable at the state-level, limiting our ability to predict which industries and occupations might be impacted in North Carolina. However, this data suggests that businesses are likely to employ AI in areas such as marketing, customer service (i.e., virtual agents and chatbots), and data analysis.

Figure 2. AI Applications Include Marketing, Customer Service, and Data Analysis

Total Employment Trends Among North Carolina Businesses Using AI

One of the key concerns with AI integration is its potential impact on employment. However, the businesses currently using AI or planning to do so overwhelmingly report no overall change in employment levels (Figure 3). There is a modest shift in expectations over the next six months, with a projected 5 percentage point decrease in stable employment levels. This change corresponds with a slight increase in the number of businesses anticipating either an increase or a decrease in total employment due to AI implementation. While slightly more employers expect their overall staffing levels to decline rather than increase due to AI, it’s not clear from this data what, if any, impact this would have on aggregate employment in North Carolina if their predictions are correct.

Figure 3. North Carolina Businesses Report Minimal Employment Impact from AI


Despite concerns of AI taking over all our jobs, the latest survey results from the U.S. Census Bureau suggests that AI adoption is rather modest in North Carolina and businesses do not anticipate widespread AI-related employment changes. There are some signs that AI may be used for tasks like marketing, customer service, and data analysis, but it is unclear how this may impact occupations. As the technology continues to evolve, this picture may change, but for now, it looks like AI’s impacts may not be as widespread as originally feared. 

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