News Releases

05.07.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

National Labor Market Grew In June

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 5, 2013) – The national labor market added in June 195,000 more jobs than it lost. The unemployment rate, however, was essentially unchanged from the prior month, as was the total number of unemployed Americans. Despite some welcome improvements in key indicators in recent months, unemployment and underemployment remain elevated, while the pace of job growth remains subdued relative to need.

“June was the 33rd-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 twelve months, the national economy has netted an average of 191,000 jobs, a pace that, while positive, is insufficient to drive unemployment down to pre-recessionary levels. Four years into a recovery, the unemployment rate remains well above the pre-recessionary level of 5 percent.”

In June, the nation’s employers added 195,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+202,000), while government employers eliminated 7,000 more positions than they added, owing chiefly to reductions by state governments. Moreover, the payroll employment numbers for April and May underwent positive revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 394,000 jobs over those two months, not the 324,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the leisure and hospitality services sector (+75,000, with 76.5 of the gain attributable to the accommodation and food services subsector), followed by the professional and business services sector (+53,000, with 72.6 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector) and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+45,000, with 82.4 percent of the gains occurring in the retail trade subsector). Payroll levels fell the most in the manufacturing and information sectors (-6,000 and -5,000, respectively).

“Over the last year, the American economy gained 2.3 million more payroll positions that it lost,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth—some 191,000 positions per month—is better than the average logged during the prior 12-month period, but it nevertheless is insufficient to close the nation’s sizable jobs gap anytime soon.”

Slack labor market conditions were evident in the June household survey. Last month, 11.8 million Americans (7.6 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. Also in June, the share of the population participating in the labor force rose to 63.5 percent, a rate lower than the one posted a year ago. On a positive note, more Americans were working in June compared to a year ago, 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 percent versus 6.8 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (13.7 percent) and Hispanic workers (9.1 percent) than among white ones (6.6 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 24 percent. Moreover, 6.3 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 7.2 percent. At the same time, 14.2 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained hard to find in June. Last month, the underemployment rate rose to 14.3 percent. Among unemployed workers, 36.7 percent had been jobless for at least six months, and the average spell of unemployment was 35.6 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 52.3 percent of unemployed persons. Another 28.1 percent of unemployed persons were reentrants to the labor market, while 10.8 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.8 percent of the total.

“The June employment report contained some good news about the state of the American labor market,” observed Quinterno. “The monthly job gain figure and the positive revisions to data from prior months were noteworthy, but unemployment and underemployment remained elevated. Despite having improved somewhat in recent months, measures of labor utilization remained at depressed levels, and long-term unemployment remains a serious problem.”

02.07.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Unemployment Rates Dip Over The Year

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 2, 2013) – Between May 2012 and May 2013, unemployment rates fell in 71 of North Carolina’s 100 countries and in 11 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. Over the period, the size of the labor force grew in 38 counties and in 9 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates prepared by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Local unemployment rates fell throughout North Carolina over the course of the year,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Unemployment nevertheless remains elevated, with 41 counties and 2 metro areas posting unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In May 2008, in contrast, just one county 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 3 percent fewer jobs (-126,100) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb to 8.9 percent from 4.7 percent. In May, the state lost 5,900 more jobs than it added (- 0.1 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,172 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 201,700 positions (+5.3 percent).

Between April 2013 and May 2013, local unemployment rates increased in 87 of the state’s 100 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 5.7 percent in Currituck County to 16.2 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 41 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 53 counties posted rates between 7 and 9.9 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to struggle relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In May, 10 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 8.5 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 80.9 percent larger.”

Over the month, unemployment rates rose in all 14 metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12.8 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (10.1 percent) and Fayetteville (9.9 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest unemployment rate (6.8 percent), followed by Asheville (6.9 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (7.2 percent).

Compared to May 2012, unemployment rates in May 2013 were lower in 71 counties and 11 metro areas. Over the year, labor force sizes increased in 38 counties and in 9 metros. Among metros, Charlotte’s labor force expanded at the fastest rate (+1.8 percent), followed by that of Asheville (+1.7 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.8 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 subdued. Collectively, employment in those three metro regions has risen by 3.6 percent since December 2007, and the combined May unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 8.2 percent. That was down from the 8.7 percent rate recorded one year ago yet was well above the 5.3 percent rate recorded in May 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest May unemployment rate (7.3 percent), followed by Charlotte (9 percent), and the Piedmont Triad (9.1 percent).

“Over three years into a recovery in North Carolina’s labor market, unemployment rates remain abnormally high across the state,” said Quinterno. “Minimal job growth has occurred thus far in 2013, and the odds that a brisk recovery will take hold anytime soon are slim. North Carolina simply lacks enough jobs for all those who want and need work, yet that alarming fact continues to escape the attention of state and federal policymakers.”

02.07.2013 News Releases No Comments

A Stronger Safety Net For America’s Children

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 2, 2013) – The economic difficulties stemming from the Great Recession have demonstrated the short-run and long-run importance of public safety net and work support programs to families with children.

To document the importance of a set of 11 safety net and work support programs, First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization in the District of Columbia, commissioned South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy,  to prepare a report that explains the need for public safety nets and work supports, identifies the challenges facing those initiatives, and profiles some of the promising reform efforts underway in the states.

Written by John Quinterno, the report, entitled A Stronger Safety Net for America’s Children, explores three major gaps in public safety net and work support programs:

  1. The Eligibility Gap – When children’s families need help but are not eligible under current law;
  2. The Coverage Gap – When eligible children do not get the help for which they are eligible, often because of confusing eligibility rules, burdensome paperwork requirements, or simply because governments failed to invest in outreach; and
  3. The Hardship Gap – When eligible children receive help through safety net initiatives, but the resources provided are insufficient to provide a solid foundation for parents climbing the economic ladder.
The report further offers recommendations for closing the three gaps. Because many safety net initiatives are federal-state partnerships, these recommendations include simplifying eligibility polices to eliminate duplicative or onerous requirements, streamlining procedures to reduce paperwork burdens on both families and state governments, and improving workflow and information technology management.
Generous funding for the report was provided by the Foundation for Child Development, a philanthropic organization in New York City.
29.05.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Spring Thaw In Local Unemployment Rates

CHAPEL HILL, NC (May 29, 2013) – Between April 2012 and April 2013, unemployment rates fell in 76 of North Carolina’s 100 countries and in 12 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. Over the period, the size of the labor force grew in 33 counties and in 8 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates prepared by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Over the year, local unemployment rates dropped across most of North Carolina,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Unemployment nevertheless remains elevated, with 32 counties and one metro area posting unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In April 2008, in contrast, just one county 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 (-113,400) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb to 8.5 percent from 4.7 percent. In April, the state gained 6,100 more jobs than it added (+ 0.2 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,642 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 214,400 positions (+5.6 percent).

Between March 2013 and April 2013, local unemployment rates decreased in 97 of the state’s 100 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 5.3 percent in Orange County to 15.9 percent in Graham County. Overall, 33 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 64 counties posted rates between 6 and 9.9 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to struggle relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In April, 9.6 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 8 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 6 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 70.8 percent larger.”

Over the month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12.3 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (9.6 percent) and Fayetteville (9.2 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest unemployment rate (6.3 percent), followed by Asheville (6.6 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (6.8 percent).

Compared to April 2012, unemployment rates in April 2013 were lower in 76 counties and 12 metro areas. Over the year, labor force sizes increased in 33 counties and in 8 metros. Among metros, Asheville’s labor force expanded at the fastest rate (+2.1 percent), followed by that of Greenville (+1.7 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.9 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 subdued. Collectively, employment in those three metro regions has risen by 3.1 percent since December 2007, and the combined April unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 7.8 percent. That was down from the 8.2 percent rate recorded one year ago yet was well above the 4.6 percent rate recorded in April 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest April unemployment rate (6.8 percent), followed by Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad (both 8.6 percent).

“Despite recent improvements in local labor markets across the state, the problems of unemployment and the accompanying hardships remain pronounced,” said Quinterno. “The state simply lacks enough jobs for all those who need and want work, and robust job growth remains far beyond the horizon. Given the massive changes to the unemployment insurance system scheduled to occur on July 1, the problems only may get worse before they get better.”

03.05.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

National Labor Market Added Jobs In April

CHAPEL HILL, NC (May 3, 2013) – The national labor market added in April 165,000 more jobs than it lost. The unemployment rate, however, was essentially unchanged from the previous month, as was the total number of unemployed Americans. Despite some improvements in key indicators in recent months, unemployment and underemployment remain elevated, while the pace of job growth remains subdued.

“April was the 31st-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 three months, the national economy has netted an average of 212,000 jobs, a pace that, while positive, is insufficient to drive unemployment down to pre-recessionary levels. More than 3.5 years into a recovery, the unemployment rate remains well above the December 2007 level of 5 percent.”

In April, the nation’s employers added 165,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+176,000), while government employers eliminated 11,000 more positions than they added, owing chiefly to reductions by the federal government. Moreover, the payroll employment numbers for February and March underwent positive revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 470,000 jobs over those two months, not the 356,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the professional and business services sector (+73,000, with 59.3 of the gain attributable to the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by leisure and hospitality sector (+43,000, with all of the gain occurring in the accommodation and food services subsector) and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+37,000, with 79.2 percent of the losses occurring in the retail trade subsector). Payroll levels fell the most in the information and construction sectors (-9,000 and -6,000, respectively).

“Over the last year, the American economy gained 2.1 million more payroll positions that it lost,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth—some 173,000 positions per month—nevertheless is insufficient to close the nation’s sizable jobs gap.”

Slack labor market conditions were evident in the April household survey. Last month, 11.7 million Americans (7.5 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. Also in April, the share of the population participating in the labor force remained at 63.3 percent, a rate lower than the one posted a year ago. On a positive note, more Americans were working in April compared to a year ago, 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 6.7 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (13.2 percent) and Hispanic workers (9 percent) than among White ones (6.7 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 24.1 percent. Moreover, 6.2 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 7.5 percent. At the same time, 12.9 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained hard to find in April. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 13.9 percent. Among unemployed workers, 37.4 percent had been jobless for at least six months, and the average spell of unemployment was 36.5 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 54.8 percent of unemployed persons. Another 26.9 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 7.4 percent of the total.

“The April employment report paints a very mixed picture of the American job market,” observed Quinterno. “The monthly job gain and the positive revisions to data from prior months were positive, but unemployment and underemployment remained elevated, while various measures of labor utilization remained at depressed levels. In many ways, the April employment report is another entry in a long series of underwhelming reports.”