News Releases

21.07.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.2%

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 21, 2017) – In June 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 12,600 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent), due primarily to net hiring in the public 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 4.2 percent, the lowest figure since late 2000.

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 turned in a relatively solid performance for the second month in a row,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “As has been the case throughout 2017, the top-level labor market indicators for June offered a more positive view of current conditions than is supported by the underlying dynamics, which actually point to a more complex situation.”

Between May 2017 and June 2017, North Carolina employers added 12,600 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 3,500 positions (+0.1 percent), and public-sector payrolls netted 9,100 jobs (+1.2 percent), due mainly to hiring at the local level. Within private industry, the education and health services sector netted the most jobs (+4,300, +0.7 percent), followed by the professional and business services sector (+3,100, +0.5 percent) and the leisure and hospitality services sector (+1,500, +0.3 percent). The construction sector, meanwhile, shed 2,200 more positions than it added (-1.1 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 565,500 positions (+14.7%) 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 238,700 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.7 percent).

“Despite the positive data for June, job growth in North Carolina has slowed in 2017,” noted Quinterno. “The state has netted just 24,000 payroll jobs so far this year, as compared to an average of 46,000 jobs at the same point in each of the last three years.”

Somewhat confusingly, the household survey so far in 2017 has been offering a more positive view of the state’s labor market than has the payroll survey. Since the year’s start, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 208,051 from 256,852 (-19 percent). For context, the 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 0.8 percent, climbing to 4.71 million from 4.66 million. Yet the size of the labor force has decreased slightly, falling by 0.2 percent to 4.91 million from 4.92 million. Compared to when the recovery began in February 2010, some 292,000 more people (+6.3 percent) now are employed or actively seeking work.

“What is sure to generate the most attention in this month’s report is the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.2 percent, which is the lowest monthly rate posted since late 2000,” observed Quinterno. “Despite similar rates of unemployment, today’s labor market arguably is worse than the one from 17 years ago, largely because there is little evidence of the kinds of widespread gains in wages, incomes, and living standards that characterized the earlier era. Additionally, the 4.1 percent rate posted in November 2000 was part of a rising trend of worsening unemployment rates that would lead into a recession the following year.”

Another difference between the two periods is found in various measures of labor utilization. In late 2000, approximately 68 of every 100 working-age North Carolinians either had a job or were actively seeking one, as compared to 61 of every 100 today. Similarly, some 65% of all working-age North Carolinians had a job in late 2000, as opposed to 59% today. While some of the decline likely is tied to demographic changes, weaker economic conditions also likely are contributing.

“During the first half of 2017, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest one recorded in almost 17 years even though job growth has slowed compared to recent years,” explained Quinterno. “This combination helps to explain why North Carolina is not experiencing the growth in wages, incomes, and living standards typically associated with such low rates of unemployment.”

16.06.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 4.5% In May

Chapel Hill, NC (June 16, 2017) — In May 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 18,800 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.4 percent), with net gains in the private sector slightly offset by net losses in the public 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 4.5 percent, the lowest figure since early 2001.

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 turned in its best performance of this year in May,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “One comparatively strong month unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that overall job growth in North Carolina has slowed appreciably during 2017.”

Between April 2017 and May 2017, North Carolina employers added 18,800 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.4 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 19,300 positions (+0.5 percent), but public-sector payrolls shed, on net, 500 jobs (-0.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+9,600, +1.5 percent), followed by the construction (+3,300, +1.7 percent) and manufacturing (+1,900, +0.4 percent) sectors.

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 556,500 positions (+14.5%) 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 229,700 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.5 percent).

“Despite the positive data for May, job growth in North Carolina has slowed in 2017,” noted Quinterno. “The state has netted just 15,200 payroll jobs so far this year, as compared to approximately 40,000 jobs at the same point in the calendar in both 2016 and 2015.”

Somewhat confusingly, the household survey so far in 2017 has been offering a more positive view of the state’s labor market than has the payroll survey. Since the year’s start, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.5 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 222,989 from 256,852 (-13.2 percent). For context, the 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 slightly, growing by 0.2 percent to 4.93 million from 4.92 million. Compared to when the recovery began in February 2010, some 311,000 more people (+6.7 percent) now are employed or actively seeking work.

“What is sure to generate the most attention in this month’s report is the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.5 percent, which is the lowest monthly rate posted since early 2001,” observed Quinterno. “Despite similar rates of unemployment, today’s labor market arguably is worse than the one from 16 years ago, largely because there is little evidence of the kinds of widespread gains in wages, incomes, and living standards that characterized the earlier era.”

Another difference between the two periods is found in various measures of labor utilization. In early 2001, approximately 68 of every 100 working-age North Carolinians either had a job or were actively seeking one, as compared to 62 of every 100 today. Similarly, some 65% of all working-age North Carolinians had a job in early 2001, as opposed to 59% today. While some of the decline likely is tied to demographic changes, weaker economic conditions also likely are contributing. To the extent that poor prospects depress labor utilization rates, joblessness will be more pronounced than is reflected in the official unemployment rate.

“So far in 2017, North Carolina’s labor market has been of two minds,” explained Quinterno. “The unemployment rate has fallen to a remarkably low level despite a relative lack of payroll job growth. Even though North Carolina has a low rate of unemployment, the state is not experiencing the benefits typically associated with that environment; namely, improvements in wages, incomes and living standards.”

21.04.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

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.”

24.03.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

North Carolina’s Recovery Turns Seven

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 24, 2017) – In February 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 9,100 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent), with small net gains occurring in both the private and public sectors. 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 5.1 percent.

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

“February 2017 marked the seventh anniversary of the start of North Carolina’s labor market recovery from the ‘Great Recession’,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Improvements have been very slow in coming, and as a result, the state’s labor market, while better in some ways, still has not returned to pre-recessionary conditions in other important respects.”

Over the past seven years, North Carolina’s labor market has netted an average of 6,500 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 545,000 positions (+14.2%) from the worst point of the last recession to the present. Today, the state has 4.3 million payroll jobs, up from 3.8 million in February 2010. Yet even with that gain, North Carolina has just 218,000 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.2 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.”

Similar patterns emerge when considering household data related to employment. In February, the statewide unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 252,452 from 260,064 (-2.9 percent). For comparison, the unemployment rate in February 2010 was 11.3 percent, with the number of unemployed individuals totaling 522,896.

Since February 2010, the state’s labor force has grown by 7.1 percent, rising to 4.9 million from 4.6 million, with the number of employed persons having increased by 14.6 percent, ticking up to 4.7 million from 4.1 million.

“North Carolina’s labor market has improved over the past seven years, and conditions are better today than they were during the worst part of the recession,” explained Quinterno. “The labor market remains far from healthy, however, and its abilities to accommodate all those who want and need work and generate rising wages and incomes remain impaired.”

13.03.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC’s Labor Market Starts 2017 Slowly

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 13, 2017) – In the first month of 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively cut 6,600 more payroll jobs than they added (-0.2 percent), with net losses occurring in both the private and public sectors. The monthly household survey, meanwhile, recorded a slight increase in both the number of unemployed North Carolinians and in the statewide unemployment rate, which rose to 5.3 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 got off to a slow start in 2017, with the state experiencing a monthly decline in the number of payroll jobs for the first time since early 2015,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The drop, however, was slight, and it was consistent with the pattern of slow growth that has defined North Carolina’s recovery over the past seven years.”

Between December 2016 and January 2017, North Carolina employers cut 6,600 more payroll jobs than they added (-0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls lost, on net, 1,400 positions (-0.1 percent), and public-sector payrolls lost, on net, 5,200 jobs (-0.7 percent). Within private industry, the manufacturing sector shed the most jobs (-4,700, -1 percent), followed by the leisure and hospitality sector (-1,900, -0.4 percent), the professional and business services sector (-1,200, -0.2 percent), and the information sector (-800, -1 percent). The losses in those industries were partially offset by gains in trade, trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,800, +0.2 percent), the financial services sector (+1,700, +0.7 percent), the other services sector (+1,500, +1 percent), and the construction sector (+1,100, +0.5 percent).

Today’s data release from the Labor and Economic Analysis Division also reflects the annual benchmark revision, in which historical monthly estimates are adjusted to a complete job count derived chiefly from unemployment insurance tax filings. That benchmark revision showed that North Carolina gained more payroll jobs in 2016 than first thought (+94,000 vs. +85,200). Meanwhile, the state gained more jobs in 2015 than first estimated (+101,300 vs. +84,200), while adding fewer jobs in 2014 than first measured (+94,900 vs. 96,000).

“After accounting for recent data revisions, North Carolina now has 207,900 more payroll jobs, or 5 percent more, than it did when the ‘Great Recession’ began in December 2007,” said Quinterno. “Since the statewide recovery began in February 2010, North Carolina has gained an average of 6,400 jobs per month, resulting in cumulative gain of 534,700 jobs.”

Another trend revealed by the data revision is how remarkably consistent job growth has been over the last five years. Since 2012, the number of payroll jobs in North Carolina has grown at a rate of approximately 2 percent per year, with specific annual growth rates ranging from 1.8 percent in 2012 to 2.4 percent in 2015. The exact rate for 2016 was 2.2 percent.

“Although consistent, an annual rate of job growth of 2 percent coming on the heels of a brutal recession is not adequate to accommodate North Carolina’s growing working-age population,” cautioned Quinterno. “Such a modest rate of growth also is unlikely to generate any real improvements in hourly wages, household incomes, and overall living standards.”

Similar patterns emerge when considering household data related to employment. In January, the statewide unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons climbing to 260,150 from 256,852 (+1.3 percent). In January, the state’s labor force grew by 0.3 percent, rising to 4.93 million from 4.92 million, with the number of employed persons increasing by 0.2 percent, ticking up to 4.67 million from 4.66 million.

Based on the recent data revisions, North Carolina’s monthly unemployment rate averaged 5.1 percent in 2016, as compared to 5.7 percent in 2015. On average, fewer North Carolinians were unemployed in 2016 than in 2015 (248,000 vs. 271,000), while more people were employed in the typical month (4.6 million vs. 4.5 million).

A defining characteristic of the “Great Recession” and the subsequent recovery has been a sharp drop in the share of the working-age population that is even participating in the labor force. In 2016, that proportion averaged 61.7 percent, up from 61.3 percent in 2015. Yet in 2007, the rate averaged 62.4 percent. If the 2007 rate had been in effect in 2016, an additional 307,778 individuals (+6.3 percent), on average, would have been in the state’s labor force.

The same dynamic applies to the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed. In 2016, that proportion averaged 58.9 percent, up from 57.8 percent in 2015. Yet in 2007, the rate averaged 62.4 percent. If the 2007 rate had been in effect in 2016, an additional 274,600 individuals (+5.9 percent), on average, would have been employed.

“2017 is a potential turning point for North Carolina’s slow labor market recovery,” explained Quinterno. “Left to its own devices, a 2 percent increase in payroll employment seems likely, given how that has been the case for each of the last five years. Yet a great deal of uncertainty exists in light of possible changes in the United States’ fiscal and monetary policies. Some changes could serve to accelerate growth, while others could slow it further, resulting in an even more difficult landscape for working North Carolinians to navigate.”