04.21.2017 News Releases, Policy Points

NC Netted Almost No Jobs In 2017.q1

CHAPEL HILL, NC (April 21, 2017) – In March 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 500 more payroll jobs than they cut (+/-0.0 percent), with a net gain in the public sector effectively cancelled out by net losses in the private sector. The monthly household survey, meanwhile, recorded a decrease in both the number of unemployed North Carolinians and in the statewide unemployment rate, which fell to 4.9 percent.

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

“North Carolina’s labor market has sputtered so far in 2017, with the total number of jobs in the state having increased by just 4,900, or 0.1 percent, during the first quarter of the year,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy.

Between February 2017 and March 2017, North Carolina employers added 500 more payroll jobs than they cut (+/-0.0 percent). Private-sector payrolls lost, on net, 4,400 positions (-0.1 percent), but public-sector payrolls gained, on net, 4,900 jobs (+0.7 percent). Within private industry, the construction sector shed the most jobs (-3,700, -1.8 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (-3,000, -0.4 percent). The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, netted the most jobs (+2,600, +0.6 percent).

Since North Carolina’s labor market recovery began in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 6,400 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 546,000 positions (+14.2%) since the worst point of the last recession. Today, the state has 4.4 million payroll jobs, up from 3.8 million in February 2010. Yet even with that gain, North Carolina has just 219,000 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.3 percent).

“In recent years, North Carolina has gained jobs at a rate of approximately 2 percent per year,” noted Quinterno. “Such a modest rate of growth has done little to generate real improvements in hourly wages, household incomes, and overall living standards.”

So far in 2017, the household survey has offered a somewhat more positive view of North Carolina’s labor market than has the payroll survey. Since the year’s start, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 244,060 from 256,852 (-5 percent). For comparison, the unemployment rate in February 2010 was 11.3 percent, with the number of unemployed individuals totaling 522,896.

Also in 2017, the number of employed persons has risen by 0.9 percent, climbing to 4.71 million from 4.66 million. Meanwhile, the size of the labor force has increased by 0.6 percent, growing to 5.0 million from 4.9 million. Compared to when the recovery began in February 2010, some 319,000 more people (+6.9 percent) are employed or actively seeking work.

“While North Carolina’s labor market has improved steadily, albeit slowly, over the past seven years, that progress slowed during the first quarter of 2017,” explained Quinterno. “The next few months likely will tell whether that slowdown is a temporary blip or the beginning of a period of slow growth that will pose new challenges to all North Carolinians who work for a living.”

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