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    Teamsters Struggle to Unionize Amazon and FedEx Delivery Workers

    The Teamsters union has made little headway in organizing workers at Amazon and FedEx despite wage and other gains it secured at UPS last year.Last year, two unions representing workers at three large automakers and UPS negotiated new labor contracts that included big raises and other gains. Leaders of the unions — the United Automobile Workers and the Teamsters — hoped the wins would help them organize workers across their industry.The U.A.W. won one vote to unionize a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee last month and lost one this month at two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama. The Teamsters have made even less progress at UPS’s big nonunion rivals in the delivery business, Amazon and FedEx.Polling shows that public support for unions is the highest it has been in decades. But labor experts said structural forces would make it hard for labor groups to increase their membership, which is the lowest it has been as a percentage of the total work force in decades. Unions also face stiff opposition from many employers and conservative political leaders.The Teamsters provide an instructive case study. Many of the workers doing deliveries for Amazon and FedEx work for contractors, typically small and medium-size businesses that can be hard to organize. And delivery workers employed directly by FedEx in its Express business are governed by a labor law that requires unions to organize all similar workers at the company nationally at once — a tougher standard than the one that applies to organizing employees at automakers, UPS and other employers.Some labor experts also said the Teamsters had not made as forceful a push as the U.A.W. to organize nonunion workers after securing a new contract with UPS.“You didn’t have that energy that you saw with the U.A.W.’s leaders,” said Jake Rosenfeld, a sociologist who studies labor at Washington University in St. Louis.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    A Loss at Mercedes-Benz Slows U.A.W.’s Southern Campaign

    After Mercedes workers voted against joining the United Automobile Workers, the union will have less momentum as it campaigns to organize Southern factories.After suffering a setback at two Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama on Friday, the United Automobile Workers union’s efforts to organize other auto factories in the South is likely to slow and could struggle to make headway.About 56 percent of the Mercedes workers who voted rejected the U.A.W. in an election after the union chalked up two major wins this year. In April, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee voted to join the union, the first large nonunion auto plant in the South to do so. Weeks later, the union negotiated a new contract bringing significant pay and benefit improvements for its members at several North Carolina factories owned by Daimler Truck.“Losing at Mercedes is not death for the union,” said Arthur Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “It just means they’ll have less confidence going to the next plant. The U.A.W. is in it for the long run. I don’t think they’re going to stop just because they lost here.”Since its founding in 1935, the U.A.W. has almost exclusively represented workers employed by the three Michigan-based automakers: General Motors, Ford Motor, and Chrysler, now part of Stellantis. And it has long struggled to make headway at plants owned by foreign manufacturers, especially in Southern states where anti-union sentiment runs deep.Workers at the Volkswagen plant had voted against being represented by the U.A.W. twice by narrow margins before the recent union win there. An effort a decade ago to organize one of the Mercedes plants failed to build enough support for an election.Harley Shaiken, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, noted that broad union organizing efforts seldom proceeded smoothly. In the 1930s, the U.A.W. won recognition at G.M. and Chrysler but struggled at Ford, which continued employing nonunion workers for a few years.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Few Chinese Electric Cars Are Sold in U.S., but Industry Fears a Flood

    Automakers in the United States and their supporters welcomed President Biden’s tariffs, saying they would protect domestic manufacturing and jobs from cheap Chinese vehicles.The Biden administration’s new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles won’t have a huge immediate impact on American consumers or the car market because very few such cars are sold in the United States.But the decision reflects deep concern within the American automotive industry, which has grown increasingly worried about China’s ability to churn out cheap electric vehicles. American automakers welcomed the decision by the Biden administration on Tuesday to impose a 100 percent tariff on electric vehicles from China, saying those vehicles would undercut billions of dollars of investment in electric vehicle and battery factories in the United States.“Today’s announcement is a necessary response to combat the Chinese government’s unfair trade practices that endanger the future of our auto industry,” Senator Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat, said in a statement. “It will help level the playing field, keep our auto industry competitive and support good-paying, union jobs here at home.”On Tuesday, President Biden announced a series of new and increased tariffs on certain Chinese-made goods, including a 25 percent duty on steel and aluminum and 50 percent levies on semiconductors and solar panels. The tariff on electric vehicles made in China was quadrupled from 25 percent. Chinese lithium-ion batteries for electric cars will now face a 25 percent tariff, up from 7.5 percent.The United States imports only a few makes — electric or gasoline — from China. One is the Polestar 2, an electric vehicle made in China by a Swedish automaker in which the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely has a controlling stake. In a statement, Polestar said it was evaluating the impact of Mr. Biden’s announcement.“We believe that free trade is essential to speed up the transition to more sustainable mobility through increased E.V. adoption,” the company said.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    What Forecasters Say About Interest Rates (and Why They Disagree)

    Hopes for a steep drop in borrowing costs for consumers and businesses have been dashed. But some experts predict modest reductions in coming months.How soon is soon? Or exactly how much later is later?As the year started, there was a widespread view among economists and on Wall Street that the Federal Reserve would lower interest rates in the first half of the year. Maybe in March, maybe in May, but sooner rather than later.That long-awaited moment, two years after the Fed began ratcheting up rates to their highest level in decades, held the prospect of brightening consumer sentiment, increasing company valuations and improving corporate financing opportunities. It was called “the pivot party,” and everyone was invited.But three months of hotter-than-expected inflation data followed. Financial markets then projected that the Fed would lower rates once, near the end of the year, or not at all — based on a view that the central bank will see little merit in such a move as long as inflation remains a bit elevated and employment is growing.Interest rates for home and car loans tilted up again. And it seems the pivot party has been canceled. But some experts argue that it has only been postponed, leaving forecasters divided about what the rest of the year will bring.Camp 1: Inflation Is Coming Under ControlSome market analysts and bank economists are making the case that rate cuts are still on the table. The April jobs report, which implied a cooling labor market and softer wage growth, gave them some fodder.These analysts generally contend that current measures of inflation are overstated because of lagging indicators, reflecting cost pressures from over a year ago, that will ebb in summer. And they believe that while the diffuse process of stabilizing prices, formally called disinflation, may face setbacks (especially any oil shock), it is on track.After a wild ride, inflation has dropped back to lower levels, according to the Fed’s preferred measure.The annual percent change in the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index

    Source: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis By The New York TimesA measure of U.S. inflation that excludes an estimate of homeownership costs suggests that price increases are less rapid.The annual percentage change in the Consumer Price Index compared with the change in the Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices. H.I.C.P. is an inflation measure commonly used in other countries that excludes “owners’ equivalent rent,” an estimate of how much it may cost homeowners to rent a similar home.

    Source: Eurostat and Bureau of Labor StatisticsBy The New York TimesWe are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    How 401(k) Drives Inequality

    Jen Forbus turned 50 this year. She is in good health and says her life has only gotten better as she has grown older. Forbus resides in Lorain, Ohio, not far from Cleveland; she is single and has no children, but her parents and sisters are nearby. She works, remotely, as an editorial supervisor for an educational publishing company, a job that she loves. She is on track to pay off her mortgage in the next 10 years, and having recently made her last car payment, she is otherwise debt-free. By almost any measure, Forbus is middle class. Listen to this article, read by Malcolm HillgartnerStill, she worries about her future. Forbus would like to stop working when she is 65. She has no big retirement dreams — she is not planning to move to Florida or to take extravagant vacations. She hopes to spend her later years enjoying family and friends and pursuing different hobbies. But she knows that she hasn’t set aside enough money to ensure that she can realize even this modest ambition.A former high school teacher, Forbus says she has around $200,000 in total savings. She earns a high five-figure salary and contributes 9 percent of it to the 401(k) plan that she has through her employer. The company also makes a matching contribution that is equivalent to 5 percent of her salary. A widely accepted rule of thumb among personal-finance experts is that your retirement income needs to be close to 80 percent of what you earned before retiring if you hope to maintain your lifestyle. Forbus figures that she can retire comfortably on around $1 million, although if her house is paid off, she might be able to get by with a bit less. She is not factoring Social Security benefits into her calculations. “I feel like it’s too uncertain and not something I can depend on,” she says. But even if the stock market delivers blockbuster returns over the next 15 years, her goal is going to be difficult to reach — and this assumes that she doesn’t have a catastrophic setback, like losing her job or suffering a debilitating illness. She also knows that markets don’t always go up. During the 2008 global financial crisis, her 401(k) lost a third of its value, which was a scarring experience. From the extensive research that she has done, Forbus has become a fairly savvy investor; she’s familiar with all of the major funds and has 60 percent of her money in stocks and the rest in fixed income, which is generally the recommended ratio for people who are some years away from retiring. Still, Forbus would prefer that her retirement prospects weren’t so dependent on her own investing acumen. “It makes me very nervous,” she concedes. She and her friends speak with envy of the pensions that their parents and grandparents had. “I wish that were an option for us,” she says. We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    U.S. Job Market Eases, but Hiring Remains Firm

    Employers added 175,000 jobs in April, a milder pace than in the winter months, though layoffs have remained low and most sectors appear stable.The American job market may be shifting into a lower gear this spring, a turn that economists have expected for months after a vigorous rebound from the pandemic shock.Employers added 175,000 positions in April, the Labor Department reported Friday, undershooting forecasts. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.9 percent.A less torrid expansion after the 242,000-job average over the prior 12 months isn’t necessarily bad news, given that layoffs have remained low and most sectors appear stable.“It’s not a bad economy; it’s still a healthy economy,” said Perc Pineda, chief economist at the Plastics Industry Association. “I think it’s part of the cycle. We cannot continue robust growth indefinitely considering the limits of our economy.”The labor market has defied projections of a considerable slowdown for over a year in the face of a rapid escalation in borrowing costs, a minor banking crisis and two major wars. But economic growth declined markedly in the first quarter, suggesting that the exuberance of the last two years might be settling into a more sustainable rhythm.Year-over-year percentage change in earnings vs. inflation More

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    The Fed Is Eyeing the Job Market, but It’s Difficult to Read

    Fed officials are watching labor trends as they contemplate when to cut rates. But different measures are telling different stories.The Federal Reserve spent much of 2022 and 2023 narrowly focusing on inflation as policymakers set interest rates: Prices were rising way too fast, so they became the central bank’s top priority. But now that inflation has cooled, officials are more clearly factoring the job market into their decisions again.One potential challenge? It’s a very difficult moment to assess exactly what monthly labor market data are telling us.Jerome H. Powell, the Fed chair, said during a news conference on Wednesday that the way the job market shaped up in coming months could help to guide whether and when the central bank lowered interest rates this year. A substantial weakening could prod policymakers to cut, he suggested. If job growth remains rapid and inflation remains stuck, on the other hand, the combination could keep the Fed from lowering interest rates anytime soon.But it is tough to guess which of those scenarios may play out — and it is trickier than usual to determine how hot today’s job market is, especially in real time. Fed officials will get their latest reading on Friday morning, when the Labor Department releases its April employment report.Hiring has been rapid in recent months. That would typically make economists nervous that the economy was on the cusp of overheating: Businesses would risk competing for the same workers, pushing up wages in a way that could eventually drive up prices.But this hiring boom is different. It has come as a wave of immigrants and workers coming in from the labor market’s sidelines have helped to notably increase the supply of applicants. That has allowed companies to hire without depleting the labor pool.Yet the jump in available workers has also meant that a primary measure that economists use in assessing the job market’s strength — payroll gains — is no longer providing a clear signal. That leaves economists turning to other indicators to evaluate the strength of the job market and to forecast its forward momentum. And those measures are delivering different messages.Wage growth is still very strong by some gauges, but it seems to be cooling by others. Job openings have been coming down, the unemployment rate has ticked up recently (particularly for Black workers) and hiring expectations in business surveys have wobbled.The takeaway is that this seems to be a strong job market, but exactly how strong is hard to know. It is even harder to guess how much oomph will remain in the months to come. If job gains were to slow, would that be a sign that the economy was beginning to buckle, or just evidence that employers had finally sated their demand for new hires? If job gains were to stay strong, would that be a sign that things were overheating, or evidence that labor supply was still expanding?“Through a pre-pandemic lens, the economy looks quite strong, maybe even hot,” said Ernie Tedeschi, a research scholar at Yale Law School who was, until this spring, a White House economic adviser. But given all of the gains to labor supply, “maybe we shouldn’t use a pre-pandemic lens for thinking about the economy right now,” he said.Friday’s report is expected to show that job gains remained rapid in April: Economists are forecasting a 240,000 person jump in payrolls, according to a Bloomberg survey.That would continue the trend over the past year. The economy added 247,000 jobs per month on average from March 2023 to March 2024. To put that in context, the economy had added 167,000 jobs a month in the year through March 2019, the spring before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.The Fed’s policy committee voted this week to keep interest rates at 5.3 percent, where they have been set since July. Mr. Powell signaled that they are likely to stay at that relatively high level longer than previously expected, as officials await evidence that inflation is poised to cool further after months of stalled progress.But while the path ahead for price increases will be the main driver of policy, Mr. Powell said that “as inflation has come down, now to below 3 percent,” employment also “now comes back into focus.”For now, Fed officials have not been overly worried about rapid job gains. Mr. Powell noted on Wednesday that the economy had been able to grow more strongly in 2023 partly because the labor supply had expanded so much, both because of immigration and because more people were participating in the job market.“Remember what we saw last year: very strong growth, a really tight labor market and a historically fast decline in inflation,” Mr. Powell said. “I wouldn’t rule out that something like that can continue.”On the other hand, Mr. Powell hinted that Fed officials were keeping an eye on wage growth. He suggested repeatedly that strong wage increases alone would not be enough to drive the Fed’s decisions.But the Fed chair still signaled that recent wage gains were stronger than the Fed thought would be consistent with low and stable inflation over time. As companies pay more to attract workers, many economists think that they are likely to raise prices to cover climbing labor costs and protect profit margins.Pay gains remain strong by key measures. Data this week showed that a measure of wages and benefits that the Fed watches closely, called the Employment Cost Index, climbed more rapidly than expected at the start of 2024.“We don’t target wage increases, but in the longer run, if you have wage increases running higher than productivity would warrant, there will be inflationary pressures,” Mr. Powell said this week. When it comes to slowing down wage gains to a sustainable pace, “we have a ways to go on that.”Whether job gains and wage gains will remain so rapid is unclear.Bill Kasko, the president of a white-collar employment placement agency in Texas, said that while he continued to see strong demand for workers, he also noticed employers becoming pickier as the outlook for interest rates and the looming presidential election stoked uncertainty. They wanted to see more job candidates, and take longer to make decisions.“There’s still demand, it’s just not moving as quickly,” Mr. Kasko said.If employers start to pull back more concertedly, Mr. Powell made clear this week that a “meaningful” jump in joblessness could prod the central bank to lower rates.The upshot? It seems as if officials would be more alarmed by a marked job market slowdown than by strong continued payroll gains, especially when it is hard to tell whether robust hiring numbers signal that the labor market is hot or simply that it is changing.“There’s an asymmetry in how they view the labor market,” said Michael Feroli, the chief U.S. economist at J.P. Morgan.Ben Casselman More

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    North Carolina Triad Tries to Reinvent Its Economy

    Scott Kidd didn’t expect a terribly busy job when he became the town manager of Liberty, N.C., a onetime furniture and textile hub whose rhythms more recently centered on a yearly antiques festival.Those quiet times, less than three years ago, soon became a whirlwind. Toyota announced it was building a battery factory on the town’s rural outskirts for electric and hybrid vehicles, and since then Mr. Kidd has reviewed ordinances, met with housing developers and otherwise sought to meet the needs of a seven-million-square-foot facility.The flurry of activity reflects new investments in a region of North Carolina that has lagged behind: the Triad. The average income in Randolph County, which includes Liberty, is $47,000, and some jobs at Toyota will offer an hourly wage comfortably above that. More people moving into the area could breathe life into Liberty’s downtown.But the potential dividends for the area — which includes Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, in the center of the state — depend on equipping its workers with the skills needed for those new jobs. Mr. Kidd worried that many local workers lacked the education and skills to work at the plant.For those jobs, “they don’t write anything down — they put it in a computer,” Mr. Kidd said. “And if you don’t know how to do that, you kind of get x-ed out.”At the same time, some residents and local leaders who welcome the new industries worry about maintaining the area’s character, lest it become like the rapidly growing — and expensive — sprawls elsewhere in the South.“We don’t want to be Charlotte,” said Marvin Price, executive vice president of economic development at the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, referring to the banking center 100 miles down Interstate 85. “We want to be the best version of Greensboro.”Like many states, North Carolina has drawn on new federal and state incentives to attract more advanced manufacturing and clean technology businesses. And the Triad, built on the tobacco, textile and furniture industries, is trying to pivot toward advanced manufacturing, offering a potential blueprint to other regions whose economic engines sputtered with globalization and the rise of automation.When it opens next year, Toyota’s Liberty factory will make batteries for vehicles built in Kentucky. Ten minutes away in Siler City, Wolfspeed, a semiconductor manufacturer, is building a factory with a $5 billion investment. Toyota has been awarded almost $500 million in incentives and tax breaks from the State of North Carolina, while federal legislation like the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the CHIPS Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act have enticed investment.“The Biden administration policies have helped North Carolina and especially the Triad become a clean energy epicenter in this country,” Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said at a recent event in Greensboro.Toyota is building a battery factory for electric and hybrid vehicles on the rural outskirts of Liberty.A former furniture factory is being used as a warehouse in High Point, N.C., which is part of the Triad region.For decades, the Triad has been the state’s manufacturing base. High Point became known as the home furnishings capital of the world, with the city and surrounding areas accounting for 60 percent of the country’s furniture production at their peak. Along with furniture, Greensboro and Winston-Salem specialized in textiles and tobacco. And while the Research Triangle of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill had renowned universities in the University of North Carolina, Duke and North Carolina State, the Triad had Wake Forest University.But like many manufacturing regions, its fortunes started to decline in the 1970s. Jobs in textiles started being moved overseas or automated, furniture contracted with the arrival of cheaper Chinese imports, and tobacco contracted because of a decline in smoking. Mills shut down, sitting vacant for decades, and downtowns languished.At the same time, the economy of the Triangle, which had the country’s largest corporate research park, took off as research and tech companies grew. In 2001, the Research Triangle and the Triad had roughly the same economic output; by 2021, the two had diverged. Both regions gained population, but the Triangle grew faster, buoyed by growing numbers of college-educated workers.Some industries have received a lifeline in recent years: Furniture boomed during the height of the pandemic from increased demand for home furnishings, and manufacturing has been resurging across the country. But hundreds of workers lost their jobs last year with the shuttering of several factories.“This area of the state has found itself in a situation where it has to diversify,” said Jerry Fox, an economics professor at High Point University. “This is an opportunity for people in our area to have better-paying jobs.”Signs of change are evident in downtowns. In High Point, a hosiery mill sat vacant for decades, opening only for biannual furniture showrooms. But in 2021, a group of local investors joined with the city’s Chamber of Commerce and a local foundation that donated more than $40 million to convert the site to a co-working space, Congdon Yards. Today, it houses around 50 employers and 360 employees.The Congdon Yards co-working space in High Point occupies a former hosiery mill.The former mill is now home to dozens of employers and hundreds of employees.The space sat vacant for decades before investors came together to raise funds for the conversion.The former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company factory in Winston-Salem is now part of the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.Mike Belleme for The New York TimesSimilar projects have been undertaken in Winston-Salem and Greensboro. In downtown Winston-Salem, old cigarette factories have become the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, a research-focused district that cost more than $500 million. In Greensboro, one of the city’s oldest textile mills has been converted into a mixed-use complex, with amenities like a pizzeria to go along with office space.Still, challenges remain.One is preparing the region’s workers for jobs that require different skills. Thomas Built, a bus manufacturer based in High Point since 1916, has been making electric buses over the past decade. It has nearly 2,000 employees in High Point, making it one of the city’s top employers.Kevin Bangston, the chief executive of Thomas Built, said the company had hired more than 300 workers over the past 15 months. But he has found it difficult to hire for more skilled jobs that handle automated processes in the factory.“Demand is very high for those positions, and supply is very low,” Mr. Bangston said.Key to that transition is the role of work force development programs, which involve partnerships between businesses and community colleges to provide the skills to work in advanced manufacturing.One school offering such training is Guilford Technical Community College, the site of Mr. Cooper’s Greensboro appearance. At the same event, Jill Biden, the first lady, highlighted what she saw as the importance of such programs to enacting President Biden’s economic agenda.The school offers apprenticeships, enabling students to work while earning an associate degree. One program, designed by Toyota, aims to qualify workers for jobs at the company.Guilford Technical Community College’s campus in Greensboro, N.C., where students learn skills they can use in advanced manufacturing jobs.Students at the school learn about electricity, motor controls and the components of car batteries.Devante Cuthbertson joined the apprenticeship program at Guilford Tech last year.The president of Guilford Tech said the arrival of Toyota had increased interest in the school’s programs.Devante Cuthbertson, 28, grew up in Greensboro and was working for a flooring company around 30 minutes away as a machine operator, but he left that job in 2023 to join the apprenticeship program at Guilford Tech. There, he takes classes twice a week and goes to the Toyota battery plant site three times a week for an apprenticeship program, applying classroom learning about electricity, motor controls and the components of car batteries.“I wanted to ensure I had an education,” said Mr. Cuthbertson, who said he intended to apply for a job at Toyota as a maintenance technician when he graduates in 2025.Anthony Clarke, the president of Guilford Tech, said the arrival of Toyota — with the promise of high-paying jobs — had boosted interest in the school’s programs.“Any time employers stand up and say, ‘Hey, we’ve got really good-paying jobs,’ students pay attention to that, and they flock to that,” Dr. Clarke said.Economic development leaders and elected officials have cited the area’s affordability as a draw for companies and workers alike, particularly as housing costs have skyrocketed nationally. According to Zillow, the average home valuation in the Triad’s three main cities is around $250,000, compared with more than $300,000 for the state as a whole and more than $400,000 in the Triangle.The Triad has become a destination for some college-educated workers leaving coastal cities. Along with her husband, who worked for Nike, Melissa Binder left Portland, Ore., in 2019 for Winston-Salem to raise their child. They bought their house for $315,000 in 2019, and Ms. Binder said it offered more space than the house they owned in Portland.After renting in New York’s West Village for several years, Julia and Ryan Hennessee knew they wanted a home to raise a family. In 2018, they chose Winston-Salem to be close to Mr. Hennessee’s family and bought a single-family home for $445,000.The Hennessees said they welcomed the growth offered by the arrival of companies like Toyota. At the same time, they want Winston-Salem to retain the smaller-town charm that drew them to the region — as well as the cost of living — and not become like other Southern cities.“Winston knows how it’s different from a place like Atlanta, and doesn’t have aspirations of becoming that,” Ms. Hennessee said.Julia and Ryan Hennessee moved to Winston-Salem from New York City in 2018.The Triad has become a destination for some college-educated workers leaving coastal cities. But for others in the Triad, particularly in more rural parts like Liberty, the transition could prove more challenging.Brenda Hornsby Heindl, a librarian in Liberty, said the Toyota plant could improve the town’s fortunes. But primary education in the county remains underfunded, she said, and literacy levels are lower than the state average.“While my goal for the future of our community is that anyone could apply as an engineer at Toyota, right now we’ve got adults and kids that couldn’t read an application,” Ms. Hornsby Heindl said. “It’s going to take more than Toyota to have that happen.” More