11.16.2012 News Releases, Policy Points

October Employment In North Carolina

CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 16, 2012) – In October, employers in North Carolina added 8,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated (+0.2 percent), thanks to hiring across a range of private-sector industries. Also in October, the number of employed North Carolinians increased, while both the number of unemployed persons and the statewide unemployment rate fell. The October unemployment rate of 9.3 percent was the lowest one recorded since January 2009, when the rate equaled 9 percent. These findings come from new data released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“North Carolina’s labor market grew in October, as measured by a number of important indicators,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The overall number of jobs in the state rose to 3.96 million, the size of the labor force increased to 4.71 million, the number of employed persons grew to 4.23 million, and the number of unemployed person fell to 0.44 million. The unemployment rate dropped to 9.3 percent, the lowest level recorded since early 2009.”

In October, North Carolina employers added 8,000 more jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 8,900 positions (+0.3 percent), while public-sector payrolls shed 900 jobs (-0.1 percent), due to cuts in state government payrolls (-3,800, -2 percent). Within the private sector, leisure and hospitality services netted the most jobs (+3,600, +0.9 percent), with 75 percent of the growth occurring in the arts, entertainment, and recreation subsector. The trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector netted 2,900 jobs (+0.4 percent), with 58.6 percent of the gain tied to the retail subsector. Manufacturing payrolls expanded by 2,600 jobs (+0.4 percent), followed by the other services sector (+2,400 jobs, +1.6 percent). The only sectors to shed jobs were professional and business services (-3,400, -0.6 percent), education and health services (-1,800, -0.3 percent), and mining and logging (-100, -1.8 percent).

A revision to the September payroll data found that the state gained more jobs than first estimated (+3,900 versus +100). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 211,900 fewer payroll positions (-5.1 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 3,575 payroll jobs per month, leading to a cumulative gain of 114,400 positions (+3 percent).

“North Carolina’s labor market posted relatively strong growth in the first quarter of 2012, stumbled in the second quarter of the year, stagnated in the third quarter, but began the fourth quarter on a somewhat promising note,” added Quinterno. “North Carolina now has 32,600 more jobs than it did at the start of the year. The general pattern of 2012 has been one of modest growth in the private sector offset by modest declines in the public sector.”

The household data for October also offered an improved view of labor market conditions. Last month, the unemployment rate fell to 9.3 percent, the lowest level recorded since January 2009, when the statewide rate equaled 9 percent. Last month, the number of employed North Carolinians rose (+43,699, +1 percent), as did the overall size of the labor force (+34,678, +0.7 percent). The number of unemployed persons dropped by 9,021 (-0.3 percent).

Over the past year, the total number of unemployed North Carolinians has fallen by 53,054 persons (-10.8 percent), and the number of employed persons has grown by 95,425 persons (+2.3 percent). The unemployment rate also has fallen by 1.3 percentage points, dropping to 9.3 percent from 10.6 percent. In short, more people are working than was the case a year ago.

That said, the recent growth in the statewide labor market is weak in relation to the severity of the employment problems facing the state. North Carolina’s unemployment rate has equaled or exceeded 9 percent in every month since January 2009 and has ranged as high as 11.4 percent. Compared to December 2007, which was when the “Great Recession” began, the statewide unemployment rate is 4.3 percentage points higher, and the number of unemployed North Carolinians is 92.2 percent larger. During the first 10 months of 2012, an average of 449,263 North Carolinians were unemployed in any given month.

Other troubling labor market indicators include a statewide unemployment rate that has exceeded 10 percent in 35 of the last 46 months and depressed labor force participation rates and employment-to-population ratios. Although the labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio both rose in October for the second consecutive month, the two measures remain near 36-year lows.

“The October job report contained a number of positive findings, in terms of data related both to employer payrolls and to the labor market experiences of individual households,” observed Quinterno. “The improvements, while welcome, should not blind policymakers to the severity of the problems facing the labor market. North Carolina’s labor market remains scarred by a massive jobs gap, slow payroll growth, and widespread unemployment. North Carolina’s labor market is by no means on the road to a robust recovery.”

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