09.18.2015 News Releases, Policy Points

N. Carolina’s Labor Market Unchanged In Aug.

CHAPEL HILL, NC (September 18, 2015) – In August, employers in North Carolina added just 700 more jobs than they cut, with all of the gain originating in in the private sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 107,200 more jobs than it lost, due entirely to gains in the private sector. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.9 percent in August was unchanged from the prior month, and it was just 0.1 percentage points lower than it had been a year earlier.

These findings come from new data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“Through the first eight months of 2015, North Carolina has gained 55,500 more payroll jobs than it has lost,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “For comparison, the corresponding figure in 2014 was a gain of 58,500 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 90,600 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”

Between July 2015 and August 2015, North Carolina employers added 700 more jobs than they cut (+/-0.0 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 4,300 positions (+0.1 percent), but public-sector payrolls shed, on net, 3,600 jobs (-0.5 percent), due to cuts by local governments. Within private industry, the construction sector added the most payroll jobs (+2,700, +1.4 percent), followed by the leisure and hospitality services sector (+2,200, +0.5 percent, with 68.2 percent of the gain occurring in the accommodation and food services subsector). The education and health services sector, meanwhile, lost the most jobs, on net (-2,900, -0.5 percent).

A revision to the July payroll data found that the state gained fewer jobs than first reported (+19,500 versus an original estimate of +20,600 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 90,600 more payroll positions (+2.2 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,300 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 417,400 positions (+10.9 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 107,200 more jobs than they cut (+2.6 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 112,000 positions (+3.3 percent), while public-sector payrolls lost, on net, 4,800 jobs (-0.7 percent). Within private industry, every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+22,100 or +3.8 percent, with 60.2 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste management services subsector).

“The steady payroll growth experienced recently in North Carolina has not closed the state’s job gap—a gap that may be as high as 417,000 jobs,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has slightly more jobs than it did when the recession started, but the state’s labor market remains far short of where it needs to be.”

According to the monthly household data, the statewide unemployment rate held steady at 5.9 percent in August. Between July and August, the number of unemployed North Carolinians increased by 2,040 persons (+0.7 percent), while the number of employed persons fell by 8,844 (-0.2 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force decreased (-6,804 persons, -0.1 percent).

Year over year, the statewide unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points, dropping to 5.9 percent from 6 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians rising by 5,607 persons (+2 percent). During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 121,361 individuals (+2.8 percent), while the size of the labor force increased by 126,968 persons (+2.7 percent).

Other improvements recorded over the course of the year include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market (to 61 percent from 60.1 percent) and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed (to 57.4 percent from 56.5 percent). Although both of these measures have increased recently, they remain not too far above the lowest monthly rates recorded at any point since January 1976.

Between August 2014 and August 2015, the number of claimants of regular state-funded insurance fell by 27.1 percent, dropping to 28,781 from 39,466. Also in August 2015, the state paid a (nominal) total of $25.3 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, an amount 23.4 percent lower than the (nominal) total of $33.1 million paid in August 2014.

“North Carolina’s labor market has improved steadily but slowly over the past year,” said Quinterno. “North Carolina’s economy continues to add enough jobs to keep pace with the growth in the size of the labor force but not enough to eliminate the large job gap caused by the last recession—a recession that began over 7.5 years ago.”

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