News Releases

05.04.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

National Labor Market Stumbled In March

The national labor market added in March just 88,000 more jobs than it lost in March. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, dipped to 7.6 percent, due in part to a contraction in the size of the labor force. Despite some improvements in certain key indicators in recent months, unemployment and underemployment remain elevated.

“March was the 30th-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 168,000 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 March, the nation’s employers added 88,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+95,000), while government employers eliminated 7,000 more positions than they added, owing chiefly to reductions by the US Postal Service. Moreover, the payroll employment numbers for January and February underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 416,000 jobs over those two months, not the 355,000 positions previously reported.

Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the professional and business services sector (+51,000, with half of the gain attributable to the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by education and health services sector (+44,000, with 53.2 percent of the gain attributable to the health care subsector), the construction sector (+18,000), and the leisure and hospitality sector (+17,000, with 71.6 percent of the gain occurring in the accommodation and food services subsector). Payroll levels fell the most in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (-27,000, with 89.3 percent of the losses originating in the retail trade subsector).

“Over the last year, the American economy has gained 1.9 million more payroll positions that it has lost,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth—some 159,000 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 March household survey. Last month, 11.7 million Americans (7.6 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the unemployment rate dropped between February and March, that was due in part to a large contraction in the size of the labor force (-496,000 persons). Also in March, the share of the population participating in the labor force fell to 63.3 percent, a rate lower than the one recorded a year ago. On a somewhat positive note, more Americans were working in March compared to a year ago, while fewer persons were unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working age population with a job fell in March to a level close to the lowest one recorded during the current business cycle.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult female workers than male ones (7 percent versus 6.9 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (13.3 percent) and Hispanic workers (9.2 percent) than among White ones (6.7 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 24.2 percent. Moreover, 7.1 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 9.2 percent. At the same time, 13 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained scarce in March. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 13.8 percent. Among unemployed workers, 39.6 percent had been jobless for at least six months, and the average spell of unemployment was 37.1 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 53.6 percent of unemployed persons in March. Another 26.9 percent of unemployed persons were reentrants to the labor market, while 11.1 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.4 percent of the total.

“In March, the air very much leaked out of the American job market,” observed Quinterno. “The monthly job gain was the smallest recorded since last June, and the economy still is not adding jobs fast enough to accommodate all the Americans who need work. And while the unemployment rate fell, that drop was due to people leaving the job market altogether.”

28.03.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

State Labor Market Drifted Through February

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 28, 2013) – In February, employers in North Carolina added 3,300 more payroll positions than they eliminated (+0.1 percent). While the statewide unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) fell by 0.1 percentage points in February, the decline was attributable to a contraction in the size of the labor force; in fact, fewer people held jobs in February than in January. These findings come from new data released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“Payroll employment growth in North Carolina slowed to a virtual standstill in February,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Despite logging seven straight months of employment growth, North Carolina still has fewer jobs than it did in December 2007. Compared to then, payroll levels are lower in seven of the state’s ten major private industrial supersectors.”

In February, North Carolina employers added 3,300 more jobs than they cut (+0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 2,200 positions (+0.1 percent), while public-sector payrolls gained 1,100 jobs (+0.2 percent). Within the private sector, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+2,600, +0.5 percent), with virtually all of the gain originating in the professional, scientific, and technical services subsector. The education and health services sector added, on net, 2,100 jobs (+0.4 percent), with health care and social services sector responsible for 66.7 percent of the gain. Meanwhile, the leisure and hospitality services sector shed the most positions (-3,000, -0.7 percent), with 83.3 percent of the losses occurring in the accommodations and food services subsector. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector lost 1,500 positions (-0.2 percent), followed by the other services sector (-600, -0.4 percent).

A revision to the January payroll data found that the state gained slightly fewer jobs than first estimated (+14,100 versus +15,100). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 118,300 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 5,819 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 209,500 positions (+5.5 percent).

“The past few months have seen relatively better job growth in North Carolina, and as a result, the state has recovered some of the ground lost during the recession,” noted Quinterno. “The pace of growth, however, remains subdued, and the state still has fewer jobs than it did at the start of latest recession despite being three years into a recovery.”

The household data for February also pointed to the existence of a lackluster labor market. Last month, the number of unemployed North Carolinians fell (-6,585, -1.5 percent), but so did the number of employed persons (-4,964, -0.1 percent). The slight drop in the unemployment rate to 9.4 percent from 9.5 percent in January therefore was a product of a contraction in the size of the labor force (-11,549, -0.2 percent). In February, the share of the working-age population participating in the labor force (63.2 percent) fell after having risen in each of the prior five months.

Compared to a year ago, some 63,847 more North Carolinians held jobs in February (+1.5 percent), while 997 more persons were unemployed (+0.2 percent). Nevertheless, the unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points due to the overall increase in the size of the labor force. Additionally, both the labor force participation rate and employment to population ratio increased by 0.2 percentage points over the year, though both measures remain at depressed levels.

The growth in the labor market that has occurred over the past year, 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. Over the past 14 months, the rate has fluctuated between 9.4 percent and 9.6 percent. Moreover, compared to December 2007, which was when the “Great Recession” began, the statewide unemployment rate is 4.4 percentage points higher, and the number of unemployed North Carolinians is 95.4 percent larger.

“The February employment was a fairly unimpressive one that points to a labor market that is stable but not necessarily improving in ways perceptible to the almost 447,000 North Carolinians who are jobless and seeking work,” observed Quinterno. “The bottom line is that North Carolina continues to face a sizable jobs shortfall, slow payroll growth, and widespread unemployment. In all those respects, 2013 so far is proving no different than 2012.”

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.”