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20.12.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Rate Hits A Five-Year Low

CHAPEL HILL, NC (December 20, 2013) – In November, employers in North Carolina eliminated 6,500 more payroll positions than they added (-0.2 percent), due primarily to a net loss of 5,000 private-sector jobs. The monthly household survey, however, recorded a significant drop in the state’s unemployment rate to 7.4 percent, which was the lowest monthly figure logged since November 2008. While North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell sharply over the past year, most of the decline was attributable to a contraction in the size of the state’s labor force, which now has 95,009 fewer members (-2 percent) than it did a year ago.

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

“The November jobs report offered a muddled picture of the state’s labor market,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “On the one hand, employers reported having fewer positions on their payrolls than in October, but on the other hand, more people reported being employed.”

Between October and November, North Carolina businesses shed 6,500 more jobs than they added (-0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls cut 5,000 more jobs than they gained (-0.1 percent), and public-sector payrolls lost -1,500 jobs (-0.2 percent). Within the private sector, the educational and health services sector lost the most jobs (-4,100, -0.7 percent), followed by the manufacturing (-3,300, -0.7 percent), finance (-2,500, -1.2 percent), and other services (-1,000, -0.7 percent) sectors. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector, meanwhile, netted the most jobs (+2,600, +0.3 percent), followed by the professional and business services (+2,000, +0.4 percent) and construction (+1,600, +1 percent) sectors.

A revision to the October payroll data found that the state gained 3,600 more jobs that month than first estimated (+25,800 versus +22,200). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 83,900 fewer payroll positions (-2 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 5,420 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 243,900 positions (+6.4 percent). At that rate, all else equal, it would take until March 2015 for the state to have as many payroll jobs as it did at the end of 2007.

The household data recorded in November offered a somewhat more optimistic view of the state’s labor market. Last month, the statewide unemployment rate fell by 0.6 percentage points and reached 7.4 percent, which was the lowest rate recorded since November 2008, when the rate was 7.7 percent. Additionally, 20,037 more North Carolinians had jobs in November (+0.5 percent) than in October. At the same time, the size of the labor force fell slightly (-8,101, -0.2 percent) over the month and reached a level smaller than the one posted in August 2011.

When placed in a broader context, the household data reported in November offer evidence of an underperforming labor market. Between November 2012 and November 2013, the statewide unemployment rate fell by 2 percentage points, dropping to 7.4 percent from 9.4 percent. Yet the decline was attributable to people leaving the labor force rather than finding new positions. While 101,091 fewer North Carolinians were unemployed in November compared to a year earlier (-22.7 percent), just 6,082 more people were employed (+0.1 percent). The remaining 95,009 people left the labor force altogether (-2 percent).

Continued declines in two major measures of labor utilization provide additional evidence of an underperforming labor market. In August, the labor force participation rate dipped to 61.3 percent, which was the lowest monthly figure recorded at any point since 1976. In fact, the labor force participation rate has fallen every month since January. Although another important measure, the employment-to-population ratio, rose in November, the current ratio of 56.8 percent is still 0.5 percentage points below the level recorded a year ago and just 0.5 percentage points above the 37-year low of 56.3 percent posted in the summer of 2011.

November’s labor market report provided additional insight into the effects of the extensive changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance compensation implemented over the summer. Between October 2013 and November 2013, the number of claimants receiving regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation declined by 4.4 percent, falling to 58,432 from 61,125. Compared to a year earlier, 42,514 fewer claimants received regular state-funded insurance in November (-42.1 percent).

Also in November, the state paid a (nominal) total of $52.6 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, an amount 44.4 percent lower than the (nominal) total of $94.7 million paid in November 2012.

“The significant drop in the state’s unemployment rate in November should not blind observers to three troubling realities,” observed Quinterno. “First, the decline in the unemployment rate masks the fact that sizable numbers of joblessness North Carolinians have left the labor market altogether. Second, while the monthly unemployment rate of 7.4 percent is the lowest one posted in five years, the rate remains extremely high; in fact, the current rate is 0.5 percentage points greater than the highest figure recorded during the 2001 recession. Lastly, jobless North Carolinians increasingly are being left to their own devices, as evidenced by the declines in unemployment insurance payments.”

06.12.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Positive And Negative Trends In Nov. Jobs Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC (December 6, 2013) – The national labor market added in November 203,000 more jobs than it lost. While the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons fell over the month, a large portion of that decline was attributable of the return to work of furloughed federal.

Last month, 10.9 million Americans were unemployed, while 7.7 million individuals worked part time despite preferring full-time positions. Another 762,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about their job prospects that they had stopped searching for work altogether.

“November marked the 38th-straight month of job growth recorded in the United States,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the past year, the national economy netted an average of 191,000 jobs per month, and the pace of growth has accelerated over the past three months. Nevertheless, the country is still 7.9 million jobs short of the number needed both to replace the jobs lost since 2007 and to accommodate the subsequent growth in the size of the labor force.”

In November, the nation’s employers added 203,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred overwhelmingly in the private sector (+196,000), while government employers added 7,000 more positions than they eliminated, due to hiring by state and local governments. Furthermore, the payroll employment numbers for September and October underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy netted 375,000 jobs over those two months, not the 367,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+60,000, with 37.2 percent of the gains occurring in the retail trade subsector), followed by the education and health services sector (+40,000, with 71 percent of the gain occurring in the health care field), the professional and business services sector (+35,000, with 42 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), and the manufacturing sector (+27,000). Payroll levels in all other major sectors either rose or were essentially unchanged from October.

“Since last November, the American economy has gained 2.3 million more payroll positions that it has lost,” noted Quinterno. “While the rate of growth has accelerated in recent months, the average monthly rate of job growth over the past year—some 191,000 positions per month—not close the nation’s sizable jobs gap anytime soon.”

Labor market conditions as measured by the household survey also improved in November, although the return to work of furloughed federal employees influenced the results. Last month, 10.9 million Americans (7 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. Both the unemployment rate and the total number of unemployed persons were lower than in the prior month. In November, the share of the population participating in the labor force essentially was unchanged at 63 percent, a rate lower than the one posted a year ago.

On a positive note, more Americans were working in November compared to a year earlier, and fewer persons were unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working-age population with a job (58.6 percent) remained near the lowest figure recorded during the current business cycle.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (6.7 percent versus 6.2 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (12.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (8.7 percent) than among white ones (6.2 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 20.8 percent. Moreover, 6.7 percent of all veterans were unemployed, and the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 9.9 percent. At the same time, 12.3 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained comparatively hard to find in November. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 13.2 percent, down from the 14.4 percent rate logged a year ago. Not only were 10.9 million Americans unemployed, but 7.7 million individuals worked part-time jobs despite preferring full-time work. Another 762,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about the labor market that they had stopped searching for work.

Among unemployed workers, 37.3 percent had been jobless for at least six months, and the average spell of unemployment equaled 37.2 weeks.

In November, the leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 53.1 percent of unemployed persons. Another 28.1 percent of unemployed persons were re-entrants to the labor market, while 10.6 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.2 percent of the total.

“The November employment report points to a labor market that is improving in some crucial aspects yet underperforming in others,” observed Quinterno. “Last month, job growth accelerated and underemployment fell. Nevertheless, the American economy still is not generating enough jobs for all those who want and need work, and a tremendous amount of potential labor is going unused. The United States’ jobs crisis remains far from over. ”

05.12.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Drops In Unemployment Mask Weak Conditions

CHAPEL HILL, NC (December 5, 2013) – Between October 2012 and October 2013, unemployment rates fell in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Yet over the same period, the size of the labor force decreased in 91 counties and in 14 metro areas.

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

“Unemployment rates across much of North Carolina have moved steadily downward over the past year,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “In many communities, unemployment rates are at the lowest levels recorded since the ‘Great Recession’ began in late 2007. Local unemployment rates nevertheless remain elevated, with 98 counties and 14 metro areas posting unemployment rates greater than those recorded at the end of 2007.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 1.9 percent fewer jobs (-81,000). In October, the state gained 22,200 more jobs than it lost (+ 0.5 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,609 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 246,800 positions (+6.4 percent).

Between August 2013 and October 2013, local unemployment rates decreased in 91 of the state’s 100 counties, rose in eight counties, and held steady in one county. Individual county rates in October ranged from 4.7 percent in Chatham County to 14.4 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 12 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 66 counties posted rates between 7 and 9.9 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets still are struggling relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In October, 8.4 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 7.2 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 5 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 48.7 percent larger.”

Between August and October, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest October unemployment rate (10.9 percent), followed by Fayetteville (8.9 percent) and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (8.3 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (5.6 percent), followed by Durham-Chapel Hill (5.7 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (6 percent).

Compared to October 2012, unemployment rates in October 2013 were lower in all 100 counties and all 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes decreased in 91 counties and in 14 metros. In fact, the statewide labor force was 2 percent smaller (-96,972 individuals) in October 2013 than it was in October 2012.

Among metros, Rocky Mount’s labor force contracted at the greatest rate (-4.5 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-3.8 percent) and Greenville (-3.2 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.9 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.7 percent of the labor force residing in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte metros.

In the long term, improvements in overall labor market conditions depend on growth in the Charlotte, Research Triangle, and Piedmont Triad regions. Yet growth in these metros remains muted. Collectively, employment in the three metro regions has risen by 4.4 percent since December 2007, and the combined October unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 6.9 percent. That was down from the 8.4 percent rate recorded one year ago yet was above the 6.4 percent rate recorded in October 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest October unemployment rate (6.1 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad and Charlotte (7.6 percent in both regions).

The local employment report for October also provides insights into the effects of the extensive changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance implemented over the summer. Last month, the number of regular unemployment insurance initial claims filed in North Carolina totaled 29,142, down from the 59,118 initial claims filed a year earlier (-50.7 percent). Mecklenburg County was home to greatest number of regular initial claims (3,068), followed by Wake (2,252), Guilford (1,550), Cumberland (1,035), and Forsyth (858) counties.

In October 2013, North Carolinians received a (nominal) total of $63.8 million in regular state-funded and federal unemployment insurance compensation, down from the (nominal) $216.3 million received in October 2012. This sharp decline (-70.5 percent) is attributable to a mix of factors, such as drops in the number of insurance claims resulting from economic improvements and legal changes to eligibility criteria.

Additionally, the state’s decision to exit the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program reduced the amount of federal unemployment insurance compensation flowing into the state in October. Between October 20102 and October 2013, the amount of federal unemployment insurance benefits paid to North Carolinians fell by 96.8 percent, dropping to a (nominal) total of $3.6 million from a (nominal) total of $113.7 million.

“Despite recent drops in local unemployment rates, labor market conditions remain weak across much of North Carolina,” said Quinterno. “The declines in local unemployment rates actually are masking a number of alarming developments—developments that point to an under-performing economy that is crying out for attention from state and federal policymakers.”

22.11.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Data Delay Doesn’t Alter Labor Market Conditions

CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 22, 2013) – The release of new state-level labor market information following a long delay caused the shutdown of the federal government provides little evidence that conditions have improved materially across North Carolina. While employers added 30,100 more payroll jobs (+0.7 percent) than they the eliminated between August and October, the size of the state’s labor force fell by 18,369 persons (-0.4 percent) during the same period. And the state’s labor force participation rate—a key measure of labor utilization—fell steadily over that time to the lowest monthly figure recorded at any point since 1976.

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

“North Carolina’s labor market has experienced few meaningful improvements since August,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Although the state experienced some job growth and saw a sharp drop in the unemployment rate, the decline in unemployment was attributable largely to people leaving the labor force rather than finding jobs. A tremendous amount of labor in North Carolina simply is sitting idle due to a lack of demand.”

Between August and October, North Carolina businesses gained 30,100 more jobs than they cut (+0.7 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 19,200 positions (+0.6 percent), and public-sector payrolls added 10,900 jobs (+1.6 percent), due chiefly to hiring by local governments (+7,100, +1.7 percent). Within the private sector, the educational and health services sector netted the most jobs (+9,900, +1.8 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+7,000, +0.9 percent). The leisure and hospitality sector, meanwhile, lost the most jobs (-3,200, -0.7 percent), followed by the finance (-3,100, -1.5 percent) and construction (-1,800, -1.1 percent) sectors.

A revision to the August payroll data found that the state gained more jobs that month than first estimated (+2,900 versus -1,700). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 81,000 fewer payroll positions (-1.9 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 5,600 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 246,800 positions (+6.4 percent). At that rate, all else equal, it would take until January 2015 for the state to have as many payroll jobs as it did at the end of 2007.

The household data recorded since August offer further evidence of an underperforming labor market. Since that time, the statewide unemployment rate has fallen by 0.7 percentage points and has reached the lowest level (8 percent) recorded since late 2008. Yet much of the decline in the unemployment rate was due to people leaving the labor force rather than finding jobs. Between August and October, the size of the state’s labor force declined by 18,369 persons (-0.4 percent) and reached a level smaller than the one posted in October 2011.

The ongoing slides in two major measures of labor utilization provide additional evidence of people exiting the labor market altogether. Between August and October, the labor force participation rate, a key measure of labor utilization, fell steadily. In fact, the labor force participation rate has fallen in every month since January, and in October, it reached a monthly level—61.4 percent—lower than any figure posted at any time since 1976. Another important measure, the employment-to-population ratio, essentially managed to hold steady between August and October, but even then, the current ratio of 56.5 percent is only 0.2 percentage points above the 37-year low of 56.3 percent posted in the summer of 2011.

“Relatively little has changed in North Carolina’s labor market in the two months since the last release of statewide labor market data,” observed Quinterno. “At first glance, the steep decline in the unemployment rate seems promising, but scratch beneath the surface, and you will find a rate that is coming down for too many of the wrong reasons. North Carolina’s labor market simply continues to disappoint.”

22.10.2013 News Releases No Comments

National Labor Market Goes Nowhere In Sept.

CHAPEL HILL, NC (October 22, 2013) – The national labor market added in September 148,000 more jobs than it lost. While the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons essentially held steady over the month, joblessness remained pervasive throughout the country. Last month, 11.3 million Americans were unemployed, while 7.9 million individuals worked part time despite preferring full-time positions. Another 852,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about their job prospects that they had stopped searching for work altogether.

“September marked the 36th-straight month of job growth recorded in the United States,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the past year, the national economy netted an average of 185,000 jobs per month, a pace that, while positive, is insufficient to drive unemployment down to pre-recessionary levels. The pace of growth slowed sharply during the past three months, falling to an average monthly net gain of 114,000 jobs from an average of 116,000 jobs per month during the prior three-month period.”

In September, the nation’s employers added 148,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred overwhelmingly in the private sector (+126,000), while government employers added 22,000 more positions than they eliminated, due mainly to hiring by state governments. Furthermore, the payroll employment numbers for July and August underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy netted 282,000 jobs over those two months, not the 273,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+60,000, with 34.7 percent of the gains occurring in the retail trade subsector), followed by the professional and business services sector (+32,000, with 75.9 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector) and the construction sector (+20,000). Payroll levels fell the most in the leisure and hospitality services sector (-13,000, due primarily to cuts in the accommodation and food services subsector).

“Since last September, the American economy has gained 2.2 million more payroll positions that it has lost,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth—some 185,000 positions per month—is insufficient to close the nation’s sizable jobs gap anytime soon.”

Slack labor market conditions were evident in the September household survey. Last month, 11.3 million Americans (7.2 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. Both the unemployment rate and total number of unemployed persons essentially were unchanged from the prior month. In September, the share of the population participating in the labor force was unchanged at 63.2 percent, a rate lower than the one posted a year ago. On a positive note, more Americans were working in September compared to a year earlier, and fewer persons were unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working-age population with a job remained near the lowest figure recorded during the current business cycle.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (7.1 percent versus 6.2 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (12.9 percent) and Hispanic workers (9 percent) than among white ones (6.3 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 21.4 percent. Moreover, 6.5 percent of all veterans were unemployed, and the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 10.1 percent. At the same time, 13.1 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained hard to find in September. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 13.6 percent. Not only were 11.3 million Americans unemployed, but 7.9 million individuals worked part-time jobs despite preferring full-time work. Another 852,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about the labor market that they had stopped searching for work. Among unemployed workers, 36.9 percent had been jobless for at least six months, and the average spell of unemployment equaled 36.9 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 52 percent of unemployed persons. Another 28.3 percent of unemployed persons were re-entrants to the labor market, while 10.9 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.8 percent of the total.

“The September employment report points to a labor market that is sputtering,” observed Quinterno. “Last month, job growth slowed and underemployment remained elevated. Despite the recent drop in the unemployment rate to the lowest level recorded since late 2008, joblessness and the associated hardships remain pervasive throughout the country.”