Michael Walden

2009 SeasonMichael Walden

Dr. Michael L. Walden is a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor and Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at North Carolina State University.   His Ph.D. degree is from Cornell University and he has been at N.C. State since 1978.

Dr. Walden has teaching, research, and extension responsibilities at NCSU in the areas of consumer economics, economic outlook, and public policy.   He has published eight books and over 250 articles and reports.   He has served on several local and state level commissions, including the Governor's Welfare Reform Task Force, the School Capital Construction Legislative Study Commission, and the Blue Ribbon Committee for the Future of Wake County.   Recently he served on the staffs to the State and Local Fiscal Modernization Study Commission and the UNC Tomorrow Commission.

Dr. Walden can be frequently seen, heard, and read in the media.   He has daily radio programs aired on stations around North Carolina for which he has won two national awards.   He is often interviewed on local TV and radio news broadcasts, has appeared on NBC, CBS, The Fox Report, and the Newshour With Jim Lehrer, and is frequently quoted in such newspapers as USA Today, The News and Observer, The Charlotte Observer, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.   His biweekly column, You Decide, is carried by over forty newspapers in the state.   He has made over 1400 personal presentations.

Dr. Walden directs the semiannual economic forecast, The North Carolina Economic Outlook.   He has won a Premiere Forecaster Award from the American Agricultural Economics Association, and he has won three Applied Consumer Economics Awards from the American Council on Consumer Interests. Dr. Walden's newest book is North Carolina in the Connected Age, an economic history of the recent North Carolina economy, published by UNC Press.    


North Carolina in the Connected Age: Challenges and Opportunities in a Globalizing

Economy (2008)

Battleground Business, editor (with Peg Thoms) (2007)

Micro Mischief (2006)

Macro Mayhem (2006)

Smart Economics: Commonsense Answers to Fifty Questions About Government, 

Business, and Households (2005)

Economics and Consumer Decisions (2001)

Everyday Economics: Applications and Answers for Your Life, Your Money, and Your Government (1997), 2nd Edition (1998), 3rd Edition (2004), 4th Edition (2006), 5th Edition (2008)

Economic Issues: Rhetoric and Reality (1995)

Economics and Consumer Decisions (1992)

Instructor's manual for Economics and Consumer Decisions (1992)


Excerpt From North Carolina in the Connected Age       


1. The National Context

The Creation of the Connected Age 


As in all states, the economy in North Carolina is influenced by events at

the national level. Indeed, because the U.S. economy is so highly integrated

in national markets, much of North Carolina’s change and development are

linked to national trends. For example, national economic expansions and recessions

are echoed at the state level by similar booms and busts. In addition,

national technological, demographic, and production changes are mirrored

at the state level.


This chapter sets the national context for North Carolina’s economy by

tracing the nation’s economic development since 1970. This analysis serves

as the basis for evaluating North Carolina’s economic progress in chapter 2.


The Connected Age: Shrinking Space and Time

Although three and a half decades constitutes but the blink of an eye in

recorded history, life changed more dramatically between 1970 and 2005

than was the case in some earlier centuries. Like never before, people, countries,

and economies became interrelated and interconnected. Technology

overcame distance and culture. Communicating halfway around the world

became just as easy as talking to a next-door neighbor. Products and labor increasingly

flowed to markets without regard to international boundaries. The

world became linked digitally, globally, and competitively. The Connected

Age arrived.


Since most change occurs with a degree of gradualism over time, many

living through the Connected Age did not comprehend the massive changes

it brought. Yet the cumulative impacts on life, work, and spending are eyecatching

when some key indicators are compared for 1970 and the early



In 1970:

• cell phones, the Internet, and personal computers did not exist

• GM, Ford, and Chrysler dominated U.S. auto sales

• only one in twelve women had a college degree, and jobs held by

women paid less than half as much as jobs held by men

• fewer than half of married women worked for pay

• one of every four workers had a factory job

• the average household had 3.15 persons

• households spent almost twice as much on food eaten at home as on

food at restaurants

• households spent more on food than on transportation

• the average size of a new home was fifteen hundred square feet, and

the average household owned 1.7 vehicles

• 639 airline miles were flown for every person in the country

• African Americans were the largest minority


In the early 2000s:

• the majority of households have cell phones and personal computers,

and one-third of households are connected to the Internet

• the Toyota Camry is the best-selling sedan

• one in four women has a college degree, and jobs held by females pay

68 percent as much as jobs held by men

• more than half of married women work for pay

• one of every ten workers has a factory job

• the average household has 2.57 persons

• households spend half again as much on food eaten at home as on food

at restaurants

• households spend more on transportation than on food

• the average size of a new home is 2,330 square feet, and the average

household owns 2.1 vehicles

• 2,254 airline miles are flown annually for every person in the country

• Hispanics are the largest minority


These numbers demonstrate some key trends in the Connected Age.


Click here to read more.


Excerpted from North Carolina in the Connected Age: Challenges and Opportunities in a Globalizing Economy by Michael L. Walden. Copyright ©2008. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press. www.uncpress.unc.edu