11.20.2015 News Releases, Policy Points

Mixed Labor Market Conditions In October

CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 20, 2015) – In October, employers in North Carolina eliminated 3,100 more payroll jobs than they added, with all of the cuts originating in the private sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 91,000 more payroll jobs than it lost, due overwhelmingly to growth in the private sector. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.7 percent in October was down 0.1 percentage points from September and unchanged from 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 ten months of 2015, North Carolina has gained 62,400 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 81,600 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 95,700 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”

Between September 2015 and October 2015, North Carolina employers cut 3,100 more jobs than they added (-0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls eliminated, on net, 9,500 positions (-0.3 percent), but public-sector payrolls added, on net, 6,400 jobs (+0.9 percent), thanks entirely to hiring by local governments. Within private industry, the leisure and hospitality services sector shed the most payroll jobs (-7,200, -1.6 percent), followed by the education and health services sector (-4,100, -0.7 percent) and the financial activities sector (-1,700, -0.8 percent). The construction sector, meanwhile, added the most jobs, on net (+2,200, +1.2 percent).

A revision to the September payroll data found that the state gained more jobs than first reported (+13,700 versus an original estimate of +4,700 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 97,500 more payroll positions (+2.3 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,200 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 424,300 positions (+11 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 91,000 more jobs than they cut (+2.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 88,900 positions (+2.6 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 2,100 jobs (+0.3 percent). Within private industry, every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+21,000, +3.6 percent), followed by education and health services (+12,900, +2.3 percent).

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 still has not closed the state’s job gap—a gap that may be as high as 420,000 jobs,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has more jobs than it did when the recession started, but the total remains far short of where it should be.”

The monthly household data for October painted a more positive picture of the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate in October was 5.7 percent, which was down slightly from the 5.8 percent rate logged in September. Between September and October, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 2,042 persons (-0.7 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 10,871 (+0.2 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 8,829 persons (+0.2 percent).

Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate held steady at 5.7 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians rising by 11,591 persons (+4.4 percent). During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 124,146 individuals (+2.8 percent), and the size of the labor force increased by 135,737 persons (+2.9 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 59.9 percent) and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed (to 57.5 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 October 2014 and October 2015, the number of claimants of regular state-funded insurance fell by 32.3 percent, dropping to 22,545 from 33,283. Also in October 2015, the state paid a (nominal) total of $17.5 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, an amount 37.3 percent lower than the (nominal) total of $27.9 million paid in October 2014.

“North Carolina’s labor market continues to improve at a slow-but-steady pace,” said Quinterno. “That pace is roughly sufficient to keep pace with the growth in the size of the labor force, but it is wholly insufficient to eliminate the large job gap and significant labor market problems caused by the last recession—a recession that began almost eight years ago.”

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