Local Unemployment Rates Fell Over The Year
CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 27, 2012) – Between October 2011 and October 2012, unemployment rates fell in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 countries and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over the same period, labor force sizes grew in 68 counties and in 13 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates prepared by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Local unemployment rates fell across virtually all of North Carolina over the last 12 months,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The improvements do not alter the fact that unemployment rates remain elevated. Last month, 35 counties and two metro areas posted unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. For context, consider how only seven counties and no metro areas had unemployment rates of 10 percent or greater in October 2008.”
Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina has 5.1 percent fewer jobs (-211,900) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate jump from 4.7 percent to 8.8 percent. In October, the state gained 8,000 more payroll jobs than it lost (+0.2 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 3,575 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 114,400 positions (+3 percent).
Between September 2012 and October 2012, local unemployment rates fell in 76 counties, rose in 16 counties, and were unchanged in eight counties. Individual county rates ranged from 5.5 percent in Currituck County to 15.7 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 35 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 65 counties posted rates between 5 and 10 percent.
“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to lag behind metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In October, 9.8 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 8.3 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 3.5 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals has grown by 78.8 percent. On a positive note, the size of the non-metro labor force increased over the year. Over that same period, the number of employed persons rose, the number of unemployed persons dropped, and the unemployment rate fell by 1.6 percentage points.”
Over the month, unemployment rates declined in all 14 metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (11.7 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (10 percent) and Fayetteville (9.3 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest unemployment rate (6.7 percent), followed by Asheville (6.8 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (7 percent).
Compared to October 2011, unemployment rates were lower in October 2012 in 98 counties and in all 14 metro areas. Over the year, labor force sizes increased in 68 counties and in 13 metros. Among metros, Goldsboro’s labor force expanded at the fastest rate (+3 percent), followed by that of Rocky Mount (+2.7 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.5 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.1 percent of the labor force residing in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte metros.
In the long term, any meaningful recovery will hinge on economic and employment growth in the Charlotte, Research Triangle, and Piedmont Triad regions. Yet growth in these metros remains weak. Collectively, employment in these three metro regions has risen by 3.7 percent since December 2007, and the combined October unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 8.1, down from the 9.6 percent rate recorded one year ago yet well above the 6.3 percent rate logged in October 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (7.1 percent) in October, followed by the Piedmont Triad (8.8 percent), and Charlotte (9.1 percent).
“Despite the broad decline in unemployment rates over the past year, labor market conditions across North Carolina remain far from healthy and still are much worse than they were in October 2008, which is when the state’s labor market entered its period of sharp decline,” said Quinterno. “Unemployment rates remain elevated across the state, and 1.3 times as many North Carolinians are jobless and seeking work than was the case four years ago.”