11.18.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

NC Unemployment Rate Rose In Oct.

CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 18, 2016) – In October, employers in North Carolina added 5,700 more payroll jobs than they cut, due entirely to hiring in the private sector. So far in 2016, North Carolina has netted 69,400 payroll jobs (+1.6 percent), due primarily to private-sector growth. Meanwhile, the statewide unemployment rate of 4.9 in October was 0.7 percentage points lower than it was a year ago.

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

“The job growth experienced so far in North Carolina in 2016 is in line with the slow recovery underway since early 2010,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The state remains mired in the same pattern of underwhelming job growth that has characterized that past 6.5 years.”

From September to October, North Carolina employers added 5,700 more jobs than they cut (+0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls added, on net, 6,300 positions (+0.2 percent), with public sector payrolls shrinking by 600 positions (-0.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector gained, on net, the most payroll jobs (+5,500, +0.9 percent), followed by the leisure and hospitality services sector (+3,600, +0.8 percent) and the construction sector (+1,900, +1 percent). The other services sector, meanwhile, cut, on net, 2,200 jobs (-1.4 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (-900, -0.1 percent) and the information sector (-800, -1.1 percent).

A revision to the September payroll data found that the state netted more jobs than first estimated (+11,100 versus +9,700). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 176,600 more payroll positions (+4.2 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 503,200 positions (+13 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 84,700 more jobs than they cut (+2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 76,800 positions (+2.2 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 7,900 jobs (+1.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+27,400, +4.6 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+19,600, +2.4 percent) and the education and health services sector (+9,600, +1.7 percent) sector.

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 has not closed the state’s sizable job gap,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has more jobs than it did when the recession started, but it still has far fewer jobs than it should have given the growth in the state’s working-age population.”

The monthly household data for October painted a mixed picture of the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate of 4.9 percent was up from the 4.7 percent rate in September. At the same time, the unemployment rate was lower than the 5.6 percent rate logged in October 2015.

Much of the increase in the statewide unemployment rate between September and October was due to a 30,261 person expansion (+0.6 percent) in the size of the labor force. Between September and October, the number of unemployed North Carolinians actually rose by 10,095 persons (+4.4 percent), while the number of employed persons increased by 20,166 individuals (+0.4 percent).

The month-over-month expansion in the size of the labor force further was reflected in a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.3 percent from 61 percent. That rate, however, remains just 0.6 percentage points above the lowest monthly rate logged at any point since January 1976.

“Slow-but-steady job growth has defined North Carolina’s recovery from the ‘Great Recession,’ but that growth has not been sufficient to accommodate the employment needs of a growing working-age population,” said Quinterno. “Those conditions explain to a large degree why many working North Carolinians are struggling to realize improvements in their wages, incomes, and living standards.”

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