CHAPEL HILL, NC (May 20, 2016) – In April, employers in North Carolina effectively added no more payroll jobs than they cut, as slight job gains in the private sector were offset by losses in the public sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 95,600 more payroll jobs than it lost, due chiefly to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in April was slightly lower than in March, and it was 0.4 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.
“So far in 2016, North Carolina has gained 36,500 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 2015 was a gain of 25,100 jobs, and the 2014 gain was 27,800 jobs. Even with the gains logged so far in 2016, North Carolina has just 143,700 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.
Between March 2016 and April 2016, North Carolina employers added 1,000 more jobs than they cut (+/ 0.0 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 3,100 positions (+0.1 percent), with public sector payrolls contracting by 2,100 positions (-0.3 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services netted the most payroll jobs (+4,100, +0.7 percent), followed by the information sector (+1,300, +1.7 percent). The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, shed, on net, 2,700 jobs (-0.6 percent).
A revision to the March payroll data found that the state gained more jobs than first reported (+14,300 versus an original estimate of +12,500 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 143,700 more payroll positions (+3.5 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,400 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 470,300 positions (+12.2 percent).
Over the year, North Carolina employers added 95,600 more jobs than they cut (+2.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 94,900 positions (+2.7 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 700 jobs (+0.1 percent). Within private industry, most every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+29,700, +5.1 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities (+25,100, +3.2 percent) and leisure and hospitality services (+17,500, +3.8 percent) sectors.
“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 has not yet 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.”
The monthly household data for April contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, down slightly from the 5.5 percent logged in March. Between March and April, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 1,357 persons (-0.5 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 20,245 (+0.4 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 18,888 persons (+0.4 percent).
Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians falling by 10,571 persons (-3.8 percent) to a total of 264,491. During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 141,785 individuals (+3.2 percent) to 4,611,868, and the size of the labor force increased by 131,214 persons (+2.8 percent), reaching a total size of 4,876,359 persons.
Even though North Carolina’s statewide unemployment rate has fallen from the high of 11.3 percent reached in early 2010, the current rate of 5.4 percent remains above the pre-recessionary one of 5 percent. The fact that the unemployment rate has not returned to the pre-recessionary figure after 100 months is a troubling reality, for in no other recent recession has North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained elevated for so long.
Other improvements recorded between April 2015 and April 2016 include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 62 percent from 61.1 percent and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed to 58.6 percent from 57.5 percent. Although both of these measures have increased recently, they remain not too far from the lowest monthly rates recorded at any point since January 1976.
“North Carolina’s labor market continues to improve at a slow-but-steady pace,” said Quinterno. “The pace basically is sufficient to accommodate the growth in the size of the state’s labor force, yet it is not rapid enough to eliminate the large job gap remaining from the last recession.”