News Releases

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.”

02.10.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Unemployment Rates Down Across NC

CHAPEL HILL, NC (October 2, 2013) – Between August 2012 and August 2013, unemployment rates fell in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over that same period, the size of the labor force decreased in 78 counties and in 12 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Local unemployment rates have trended downward over the course of 2013,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Unemployment rates nevertheless remain elevated, with 22 counties and one metro area posting unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In August 2008, in contrast, seven counties and no metro areas had unemployment rates of at least 10 percent.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 2.8 percent fewer jobs (-115,700). In August, the state lost 1,700 more jobs than it gained (+/-0 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,050 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 212,100 positions (+5.5 percent).

Between July 2013 and August 2013, local unemployment rates decreased in 98 of the state’s 100 counties, rose in one county, and held steady in one county. Individual county rates ranged from 4.1 percent in Currituck County to 15.2 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 22 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 consistently have struggled relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In August, 9.2 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 7.9 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 5.4 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 63.1 percent larger.”

Over the month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12 percent), followed by Fayetteville (9.8 percent) and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (9.1 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (6.3 percent), followed by Durham-Chapel Hill (6.5 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (6.8 percent).

Compared to August 2012, unemployment rates in August 2013 were lower in all 100 counties and all 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes decreased in 78 counties and in 12 metros. In fact, the statewide labor force was 0.6 percent smaller (-28,882 individuals) in August 2013 than it was in August 2012. Among metros, Rocky Mount’s labor force contracted at the greatest rate (-3 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-1.8 percent) and Fayetteville (-1.4 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.8 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.5 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 those three metro regions has risen by 3.3 percent since December 2007, and the combined August unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 7.7 percent. That was down from the 9 percent rate recorded one year ago yet was well above the 6.3 percent rate recorded in August 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest August unemployment rate (6.8 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (8.3 percent) and Charlotte (8.4 percent).

The local employment report for August 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 28,443, down from the 51,446 initial claims filed a year earlier (-44.7 percent). Mecklenburg County was home to greatest number of regular initial claims (3,155), followed by Wake (2,020), Guilford (1,570), Cumberland (1,287), and Forsyth (914) counties.

Between September 2012 and August 2013, North Carolinians received a (nominal) total of $2.3 billion in unemployment insurance compensation, down from the (nominal) $3.1 billion received between September 2011 and August 2012.

“Despite the passage of 3.5 years since the onset of a labor market recovery in North Carolina, local unemployment rates remain elevated throughout much of the state,” said Quinterno. “Recent declines in local unemployment rates actually are masking a number of alarming developments—developments that signal a labor market that is under-performing. The modest recovery that North Carolina has experienced in recent years appears to be stalling out in 2013.”

20.09.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC’s Labor Market Recovery Appears Stalled

CHAPEL HILL, NC (September 20, 2013) – In August, employers in North Carolina eliminated 1,700 more payroll positions than they added (+/- 0.0 percent). That drop was driven almost entirely by a net reduction of 6,400 jobs (-1.5 percent) on the part of local governments. So far in 2013, North Carolina has gained just 20,000 more jobs than it has lost (+0.5 percent), and the year is shaping up to be the worst year for job growth since the onset of the recovery.

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 turned in an underwhelming performance in August,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “No progress was made in closing the state’s large job gap, as what modest growth occurred in the private sector was erased by reductions in the public sector.”

In August, North Carolina businesses shed 1,700 more jobs than they added (+/- 0.0 percent). Last month, private-sector payrolls netted 5,100 positions (+0.2 percent), but public-sector payrolls shed 6,800 jobs (-1.0 percent), due almost entirely to cuts by local governments (-6,400, -1.5 percent). Within the private sector, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+3,300, +0.6 percent), with all of the gain coming from the administrative and waste management subsector. Education and health services netted 2,900 positions (+0.5 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+2,800, +0.4 percent). The leisure and hospitality sector, meanwhile, lost the most jobs (-2,800, -0.6 percent), followed by the construction (-1,700, -1 percent) and other services (-1,600, -1.1 percent) sectors.

A revision to the July payroll data found that the state gained slightly more jobs than first estimated (+8,600 versus +8,200). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 115,700 fewer payroll positions (-2.8 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 5,050 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 212,100 positions (+5.5 percent).

“North Carolina experienced minimal net payroll growth during the first eight months of 2013,” noted Quinterno. “The net gain of 20,000 jobs recorded during the first two-thirds of the year is 53.7 percent smaller than the figure netted during the first eight months of 2012. For North Carolina to net as many jobs in 2013 as it did in all of 2012, the state would need to net an average of 17,475 jobs per month for the rest of the year. At no point since 1990 has the state averaged such job growth over the final third of a calendar year.”

The household data for August also pointed to the existence of a sputtering labor market. Last month, the number of unemployed persons fell (-8,741, -2.1 percent), but so did the number of employed persons (-3,562, -0.1 percent).The drop in the unemployment rate to 8.7 percent—the lowest monthly rate posted since December 2008—therefore was attributable to people leaving the labor force rather than individuals finding new positions. In fact, the size of the state’s labor force has fallen steadily since December 2012 and is now smaller than at any point since January 2012.

The ongoing slides in two major measures of labor utilization provide additional evidence of an under-performing statewide labor market. In August, the labor force participation rate fell for the seventh-consecutive month. The current rate of 61.8 percent is the lowest monthly figure recorded at any point since January 1976. Similarly, the employment-to-population ratio fell again in August to 56.4 percent, a level only slightly above the 37-year low of 56.3 percent posted in late 2011.

August’s labor market report provides additional insight into the effects of the extensive changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance compensation implemented over the summer. While the number of unemployed persons fell by 2.1 percent in August, the number of individuals receiving state-funded insurance compensation (new and continuing claims) fell by 8.5 percent from July to August. Additionally, the number of new insurance claims fell by 16.1 percent between July and August.

“North Carolina’s labor market has turned in an utterly underwhelming performance so far in 2013,” observed Quinterno. “The overall decline in the unemployment rate is masking a number of alarming developments—developments that point to a labor market that simply is under-performing. The modest recovery that North Carolina has experienced in the wake of the most recent recession appears to be stalling out in 2013.”

28.08.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Unemployment Rates Down Again In July

CHAPEL HILL, NC (August 28, 2013) – Between July 2012 and July 2013, unemployment rates fell in 97 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in all of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. Over that same period, the size of the labor force decreased in 70 counties and in 7 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Local unemployment rates throughout North Carolina have fallen over the course of 2013,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Unemployment rates nevertheless remain elevated, with 38 counties and 3 metro areas posting unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In July 2008, in contrast, three counties and no metro areas logged unemployment rates of at least 10 percent.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 2.7 percent fewer jobs (-114,400) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb to 9.1 percent from 4.7 percent. In July, the state gained 8,200 more jobs than it lost (+0.2 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,205 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 213,400 positions (+5.6 percent).

Between June 2013 and July 2013, local unemployment rates decreased in 81 of the state’s 100 counties, rose in nine counties, and held steady in 10 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 5.3 percent in Currituck County to 16 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 38 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 55 counties posted rates between 7 and 9.9 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to struggle relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In July, 10 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 8.7 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 4.7 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 81.2 percent larger.”

Over the month, unemployment rates fell in 12 metro areas, rose in one, and held steady in one. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (13.3 percent), followed by Fayetteville (10.6 percent) and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (10 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (6.8 percent), followed by Durham-Chapel Hill (7.1 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (7.3 percent).

Compared to July 2012, unemployment rates in July 2013 were lower in 97 counties and 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes decreased in 70 counties and in 7 metros. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir’s labor force contracted at the greatest rate (-1.6 percent), followed by Rocky Mount (-1.1 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.7 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.3 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 those three metro regions has risen by 3.3 percent since December 2007, and the combined July unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 8.5 percent. That was down from the 9.4 percent rate recorded one year ago yet was well above the 6.2 percent rate recorded in July 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest July unemployment rate (7.5 percent), followed by Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad (both 9.2 percent).

“Approximately 3.5 years into a recovery in North Carolina’s labor market, unemployment rates remain extremely elevated across the state,” said Quinterno. “The first half of 2013 was the most disappointing one for job growth since the onset of the recovery, and 2013 currently is shaping up to be the worst year for labor markets in North Carolina since the onset of the recovery.”