News Releases

22.03.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Labor Markets Stumble Into 2013

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 22, 2013) – Between January 2012 and January 2013, unemployment rates rose in 63 of North Carolina’s 100 countries and in eight of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. Over the period, the size of the labor force grew in 79 counties and in all 14 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates prepared by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Compared to a year ago, local unemployment rates were higher across much of North Carolina in January,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While the numbers from the two months are not strictly comparable due to methodological changes, the latest numbers are indicative of an economy that lacks enough employment opportunities for all those who want and need work. Last month, 76 counties and seven metro areas posted unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In January 2008, in contrast, four counties and no metro areas logged unemployment rates of 10 percent or greater.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 2.9 percent fewer jobs (-120,600) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb to 10.2 percent from 4.7 percent. In January, the state added 15,100 more jobs than it lost (+0.4 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,920 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 207,200 positions (+5.4 percent).\

Between December 2012 and January 2013, local unemployment rose in every county in the state. Individual county rates ranged from 6.6 percent in Orange County to 20.4 percent in Graham County. Overall, 76 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 24 counties posted rates between 6.6 and 9.9 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to struggle relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In January, 11.6 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.6 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 6.6 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 108.9 percent larger.”

Over the month, unemployment rates rose in all 14 metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (14.1 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (11.5 percent) and Fayetteville (10.8 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest unemployment rate (7.7 percent), followed by Raleigh-Cary (8 percent) and Asheville (8.4 percent).

Compared to January 2012, unemployment rates in January 2013 were higher in 63 counties and 8 metro areas. Over the year, labor force sizes increased in 79 counties and in all 14 metros. Among metros, Asheville’s labor force expanded at the fastest rate (+3.5 percent), followed by that of Goldsboro (+3.2 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.7 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.4 percent of the labor force residing in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte metros.

In the long term, improvements in overall labor market conditions will hinge 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 2.5 percent since December 2007, and the combined January unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 9.2 percent. That was up slightly from the 9.1 percent rate recorded one year ago and was well above the 4.9 percent rate recorded in January 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest January unemployment rate (8.2 percent), followed by Charlotte and the Piedmont Triad (both 10.2 percent).

“Although the numbers are not directly comparable, local labor markets across much of North Carolina began 2013 no differently than they began 2012,” said Quinterno. “Simply put, unemployment rates remain elevated across the state, and twice as many North Carolinians are jobless and seeking work than was the case five years ago.”

08.03.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Payroll Employment Increased In February

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 8, 2013) – The national labor market added 236,000 more jobs than it lost in February. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dropped to 7.7 percent. Despite recent increases in payroll employment levels, unemployment remains elevated, with the labor market essentially having run in place over the last six months.

“February was the 29th-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 191,000 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 February, the nation’s employers added 236,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+246,000), while government employers eliminated 10,000 more positions than they added, due mainly to reductions by state governments. Moreover, the payroll employment numbers for December and January underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 338,000 jobs over those two months, not the 353,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the professional and business services sector (+73,000, with 60.4 percent of the gain attributable to the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by construction (+48,000), and the trade, transportation and utilities sector (+30,000, with 79 percent of the gain attributable to the retail trade subsector). Payroll levels in every other private supersector either rose or held steady.

“Over the last 14 months, the American economy has gained 2.5 million more payroll positions that it has lost,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth—some 182,000 positions per month—nevertheless is insufficient to fill the sizable jobs gap caused by the most recent recession.”

Slack labor market conditions were evident in the February household survey. Last month, 12 million Americans (7.7 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the unemployment rate dropped between January and February, the decline was due to a dip in the labor force participation rate. In February, the size of the labor force contracted by 130,000 persons, as the share of the population participating in the labor force fell to 63.5 percent, a rate lower than the one recorded a year ago. On a positive note, compared to a year ago, more Americans were working in February, and fewer persons were unemployed.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (7.1 percent versus 7 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (13.8 percent) and Hispanic workers (9.6 percent) than among White ones (6.8 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 25.1 percent. Moreover, 6.9 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 9.4 percent. At the same time, 12.3 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained scarce in February. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 14.3 percent. Among unemployed workers, 40.2 percent had been jobless for at least six, and the average spell of unemployment was 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 53.9 percent of unemployed persons in February. Another 27.6 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 7.9 percent of the total.

“Despite the job growth experienced in February, the American labor market remains listless,” observed Quinterno. “The rate of job growth is subpar relative to the problems facing the national labor market, and the labor market still is not on pace to generate enough jobs for all the Americans who need work.”

18.01.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

North Carolina’s Labor Market Grew In 2012

CHAPEL HILL, NC (January 18, 2013) – In December, employers in North Carolina added 7,900 more payroll positions than they eliminated (+0.2 percent). With that increase, North Carolina ended 2012 with 72,400 more jobs (+1.8 percent) than with which it started. While the statewide unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) increased by 0.1 percentage points in December, the rate of 9.2 percent was well below the 10.4 percent one posted a year earlier. These findings come from new data released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“Relatively strong payroll growth during the fourth quarter of 2012, particularly in November, resulted in the highest annual rate of job growth posted in the last five years,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The labor market nevertheless is recovering at an excruciatingly slow pace. North Carolina still has 4.1 percent fewer jobs than it did five years ago, and if not for uncharacteristically high job growth in November, the jobs gap would be even wider.”

In December, North Carolina employers added 7,900 more jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 8,300 positions (+0.3 percent), while public-sector payrolls shed 400 jobs (-0.1 percent), due to cuts in local government payrolls (-2,900, -0.7 percent). Within the private sector, education and health services netted the most jobs (+5,900, +1.1 percent), with 76.3 percent of the growth occurring in the health care and social services subsector. The professional and business services sector netted 5,000 jobs, of which 72 percent were in the administrative and waste management subsector. Meanwhile, the finance sector shed the most positions (-2,000, -1.0 percent), with virtually all of contraction occurring in the real estate and rental leasing subsector. The leisure and hospitality services sector lost 1,300 more jobs than it gained (-0.3 percent).

A revision to the November payroll data found that the state gained slightly more jobs than first estimated (+31,600 versus +30,600). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 172,100 fewer payroll positions (-4.1 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 4,535 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 154,200 positions (+4 percent).

“North Carolina’s labor market posted relatively strong growth in the first quarter of 2012, stumbled during the second quarter, stagnated in the third quarter, but grew sharply in the fourth quarter due primarily to strong growth in November,” added Quinterno. “North Carolina ended the year with 72,400 more jobs that with which it started. The general pattern of 2012 was one of growth across much of the private sector and stasis in the public sector.”

The household data for December also offered an improved view of labor market conditions. Last month, the number of employed North Carolinians rose (+10,398, +0.2 percent), as did the overall size of the labor force (+17,395, +0.4 percent). Yet the number of unemployed persons increased by 6,997 persons (+1.6 percent), and the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent, a rate 1.2 percentage points lower than the December 2011 figure of 10.4 percent.

Over the course of 2012, the total number of unemployed North Carolinians fell by 45,380 (-9.4 percent), and the number of employed persons grew by 121,487 persons (+2.9 percent). The unemployment rate also dropped by 1.2 percentage points and now is hovering near the lowest level recorded since January 2009.

The recent growth in the labor market, however, is weak in relation to the severity of the employment problems facing the state. North Carolina’s unemployment rate has equaled or exceeded 9 percent in every month since January 2009 and has ranged as high as 11.4 percent. Compared to December 2007, which was when the “Great Recession” began, the statewide unemployment rate is 4.2 percentage points higher, and the number of unemployed North Carolinians is 91.9 percent larger. During 2012, some 447,000 North Carolinians, on average, were unemployed in any given month.

Other troubling indicators include a statewide unemployment rate that has exceeded 10 percent in 35 of the last 48 months and depressed labor force participation rates and employment-to-population ratios. While both the labor force participation rate and employment-to-population ratio improved steadily over the last four months of 2012, the two figures remain below their pre-recessionary levels.

“The December employment report showed that North Carolina ended 2012 on a positive note, at least when compared to the dismal labor market performances of recent years,” observed Quinterno. “The improvements do not change the fact that North Carolina’s labor market remains scarred by a sizable jobs shortfall, slow payroll growth, and widespread unemployment. Those are the realities facing the state’s labor market as it enters 2013.”

04.01.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

National Job Market Grew Again In December

CHAPEL HILL (January 4, 2013) – The national labor market added 155,000 more jobs than it lost in December. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, held steady at 7.8 percent, which was the lowest rate (seasonally adjusted) recorded since January 2009, when the rate also was 7.8 percent. Despite the net increase in payroll jobs in December, the pace of job growth remained subdued, and the unemployment rate was still abnormally high.

“December was the 27th-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 151,000 jobs, a pace that, while positive, is insufficient to push unemployment down to pre-recessionary levels anytime soon. Some 3.5 years into an economic recovery, the national unemployment rate remains 2.8 percentage points above the December 2007 level of 5 percent.”

In December, the nation’s employers added 155,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+168,000), while government employers eliminated 13,000 more positions than they added, due chiefly to reductions by local governments. Furthermore, the payroll employment numbers for October and November underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 298,000 jobs over those two months, not the 284,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the education and health services sector (+65,000, with 68.5 percent of the gain attributable to the health care subsector), followed by leisure and hospitality services (+31,000, due almost entirely to gains in the accommodation and food service subsector), construction (+30,000), and manufacturing (+25,000). The trade, transportation, and utilities sector, meanwhile, shed 11,000 positions, followed by the information sector (-9,000).

“The American economy managed to add 1.8 million more positions that it lost during the course of 2012,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth recorded in 2012—some 153,000 positions per month—nevertheless is insufficient to fill the sizable jobs gap caused by the most recent recession.”

Slack labor market conditions were evident in the December household survey. Last month, 12.2 million Americans (7.8 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. That unemployment rate (the same as in November) was the lowest one posted since January 2009, when 7.8 percent of the labor force also was unemployed. In December, the size of the labor force grew by 192,000 persons, and the share of the population participating in the labor force held steady at 63.6 percent, a rate below the one recorded in December 2011. The share of the adult population with a job also dipped in December to 58.6 percent, a rate unchanged from a year earlier. On a positive note, compared to a year ago, more Americans were working in December, and fewer persons were unemployed.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult female workers than male ones (7.3 percent versus 7.2 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (14 percent) and Hispanic workers (9.6 percent) than among White ones (6.9 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 23.5 percent. Moreover, 7 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 10.8 percent. At the same time, 11.7 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained scarce in December. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 14.4 percent. Among unemployed workers, 39.1 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 38.1 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 52.2 percent of unemployed persons in December. Another 29.2 percent of unemployed persons were reentrants to the labor market, while 10.5 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8 percent of the total.

“Despite the job growth experienced in December, the American labor market remains mired in the doldrums,” observed Quinterno. “The rate of job growth is subpar relative to the problems facing the national labor market, and the labor market is not on pace to generate enough jobs for all the Americans who need and want work anytime soon.”

03.01.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Employment Rates Down Over The Year

CHAPEL HILL, NC (January 3, 2013) – Between November 2011 and November 2012, unemployment rates fell in 95 of North Carolina’s 100 countries and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over that period, the size of the labor force grew in 76 counties and in 14 metro areas. These findings come from new estimates prepared by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Compared to a year ago, local unemployment rates in November were lower across almost all of North Carolina,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Although the declines in local unemployment rates are positive developments, the drops do not alter the fact that unemployment rates remain abnormally high. In November 2012, 43 counties and two metro areas posted unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In November 2008, in contrast, just 15 counties and one metro area logged unemployment rates of 10 percent or greater.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 4.3 percent fewer jobs (-181,000) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb to 9 percent from 4.7 percent. In November, the state added 30,600 more jobs than it lost (+0.8 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 4,400 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 145,300 positions (+3.8 percent).

Between October 2012 and November 2012, local unemployment rose in 81 counties, fell in 13 counties, and held steady in six counties. Individual county rates ranged from 5.7 percent in Orange County to 16.3 percent in Graham County. Overall, 43 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 57 counties posted rates between 5 and 10 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to struggle relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In November, 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 4.2 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 81.9 percent greater. On a positive note, the size of the non-metro labor force increased over the year, and over the same period, the number of employed persons rose; the number of unemployed persons dropped; and the unemployment rate fell by 1.3 percentage points.”

Over the month, unemployment rates rose in 11 metro areas, declined in one metro area, and held steady in two metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (11.7 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (10.2 percent) and Fayetteville (9.5 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest unemployment rate (6.9 percent), followed by Asheville (7.1 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (7.2 percent).

Compared to November 2011, unemployment rates in November 2012 were lower in in 95 counties and in all 14 metro areas. Over the year, labor force sizes increased in 76 counties and in all 14 metros. Among metros, Jacksonville’s labor force expanded at the fastest rate (+4.1 percent), followed by that of Goldsboro (+3.4 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.6 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.2 percent of the labor force residing in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte metros.

In the long term, improvements in overall labor market conditions will hinge 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 3.3 percent since December 2007, and the combined November unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 8.3. That was down from the 9.3 percent rate recorded one year ago but well above the 6.8 percent rate recorded in November 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest November unemployment rate (7.3 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (9 percent), and Charlotte (9.1 percent).

“Labor market conditions across much of North Carolina have improved over the past year, but even with those improvements, conditions are worse than they were in November 2008,” said Quinterno. “Unemployment rates remain elevated across the state, and 1.2 times as many North Carolinians are jobless and seeking work than was the case four years ago.”