News Releases

04.09.2012 News Releases No Comments

Reports Trace Recession and Recovery In NC

CHAPEL HILL (September 4, 2012) – The Global Research Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has released two policy reports that explore aspects of the economic recession in North Carolina and the state’s path toward recovery. Both reports draw  on data compiled by South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy.

North Carolina’s labor market has struggled since late 2007, and regardless of the outcome of Election 2012, the state’s next governor and legislature will face complicated choices regarding how best to steer the state toward economic prosperity. To help inform that process, the Global Research Institute convened several meetings of civic leaders drawn from diverse backgrounds and sectors during the first half of 2012.

Those discussions culminated in the development of two policy reports that combine social and economic data with the perspectives solicited at the meetings. The reports pay special attention to issues related to the labor market, workforce development, and higher education.

The first report, entitled Recession and Recovery in North Carolina: A Data Snapshot, 2007-12, presents a wealth of data tracing changes in the state’s labor market over the past 4.5 years and discusses key ways in which the “Great Recession” has altered the state’s labor market.

The second report, entitled Moving Beyond Plato Versus Plumbing: Individualized Education and Career Passways for All North Carolinians, contextualizes current state-level policy debates regarding post-secondary education, analyzes future occupational requirements, and presents recommendations for helping young people with diverse talents succeed in today’s labor market.

24.08.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Unemployment Rates Drop Over The Year

CHAPEL HILL (August 24, 2012) – Between July 2011 and July 2012, unemployment rates fell in 94 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over that same period, labor force sizes contracted or held steady in 59 counties and in four 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 improved across much of North Carolina over the past year,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Local labor market conditions nevertheless remain distressed, with 59 counties and seven metros logging July unemployment rates at or above 10 percent.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the economy fell into recession, North Carolina has 5.3 percent fewer jobs (-220,000) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 9.8 percent. In July, the state gained 1,800 more payroll jobs than it lost. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 3,666 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 106,314 positions (+2.8 percent).

Between June and July, unemployment rates fell in 47 counties, rose in 26 counties, and were unchanged in 27 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 4.7 percent in Currituck County to 17.6 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 59 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, while 40 counties recorded rates between 5 and 10 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to lag behind metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In July, 10.9 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, as opposed to 9.4 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force is now 0.5 percent smaller in size, while 6.1 percent fewer persons are employed. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed rural persons has grown by 95.5 percent and now totals 145,208. Over the year, the non-metro labor force declined by 1 percent, or 13,577 persons.”

Over the month, unemployment rates fell in eight metro areas, rose in two metros, and held constant in four metros. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (13.1 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (11.1 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (7.7 percent), followed by Durham-Chapel Hill and Raleigh-Cary (tied at 7.9 percent).

Compared to July 2011, unemployment rates were lower in 94 counties and in all 14 metros. Over the year, labor force sizes contracted or held steady in 59 counties and in four metros. Among metros, Wilmington’s labor force contracted at the fastest rate (-2.7 percent), followed by Winston-Salem (-0.9 percent), Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-0.7 percent), and Charlotte (-0.1 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.7 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, any meaningful recovery will hinge on economic and employment growth in the Charlotte, Research Triangle, and Piedmont Triad regions. Yet their growth remains weak. Collectively, employment in these three metro regions has risen by 1.6 percent since December 2007, and the combined July unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 9.2, down from the 10.3 percent rate recorded one year ago. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (8.1 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10 percent), and Charlotte (10.2 percent).

“Local unemployment rates fell across much of North Carolina over the past year, but that in no way implies that local labor markets are healthy,” said Quinterno. “Unemployment rates remain elevated, and nearly 500,000 North Carolinians are unemployed. The odds of finding a job remain stacked against unemployed North Carolinians who need and want work.”

17.08.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC Posts No Net Job Growth In July

CHAPEL HILL (August 17, 2012) – North Carolina posted no net job growth in July, as a sizable decline in public-sector payrolls erased virtually all of a modest increase in private-sector job levels. Over the month, the state gained just 1,800 more payroll jobs than it lost. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed North Carolinians and the statewide unemployment rate rose in July. These findings come from new data released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“North Carolina’s labor market performed poorly in July,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The overall number of jobs in the state stayed flat at slightly under 4 million, while the number of unemployed persons rose to the highest level recorded since March. Alarmingly, downward revisions to the June payroll numbers showed that North Carolina gained 26.5 percent fewer jobs during the first six months of the year than previously estimated.”

In July, North Carolina employers added 1,800 more jobs than they cut (+/- 0.0 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 16,000 positions (+0.5 percent), but public-sector employment levels contracted by 14,200 positions (-2 percent), owing entirely to declines in the local government subsector (which can be quite volatile in the summer months). Within the private sector, leisure and hospitality services gained the most jobs (+5,900, +1.5 percent), with 93.2 percent of that growth occurring in the accommodation and food service subsector. Manufacturing netted 3,400 positions (+0.8 percent), thanks mainly to hiring by manufacturers of durable goods. The education and health services sector netted 2,400 jobs (+0.4 percent), followed by professional and business services (+1,700, +0.3 percent). The natural resources and mining sector was the only private-sector industry to shed jobs (-100, -1.8 percent).

A negative revision to the June payroll data found that the state gained 8,200 fewer jobs than first reported (+8,700 versus +16,900). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 220,000 fewer payroll positions (-5.3 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 3,666 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 106,314 positions (+2.8 percent).

“North Carolina’s labor market started 2012 on a positive note but has lost energy over the course of the year,” noted Quinterno. “While the state has succeeded in adding jobs, particularly in the private sector, net job growth remains too weak to replace the positions lost during the downturn and to accommodate the state’s growing workforce. North Carolina needs to net approximately 6,400 jobs each month to keep pace with the growth of the state’s working age population, but so far in 2012, the state has netted an average of 3,500 jobs per month.”

The household data for July provided further evidence of a struggling labor market. Last month, the unemployment rate rose to 9.6 percent, which was the highest level recorded since March, while the number of unemployed persons grew by 1.2 percent. Compared to the prior month, 5,321 more North Carolinians were unemployed, while 13,733 fewer persons (-0.3 percent) reported having jobs. Additionally, 8,412 fewer individuals were in the labor force (-0.2 percent). Had those additional persons remained in the labor force and assuming they would have reported being unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate would have equaled 9.7 percent.

Over the past year, the total number of unemployed North Carolinians has fallen by 52,904 persons (-10.6 percent), and the number of employed persons has grown by 49,263 persons (+1.2 percent). These are overall meaningful improvements. The remaining 3,641 persons appear to have left the labor force (-0.1 percent) for one reason or another.

That said, the increase in employment is extremely weak compared in light of the magnitude of the labor market problems facing the state. North Carolina’s unemployment rate has 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 4.6 percentage points higher, while the number of unemployed North Carolinians is 94.4 percent greater. During the first seven months of 2012, an average of 450,214 North Carolinians were unemployed in any given month.

“To place the scale of unemployment in North Carolina in context, consider how the number of unemployed North Carolinians in July was 9.3 percent greater than the population of the City of Raleigh, which is the state’s second most populous municipality,” explained Quinterno. “The number of people added to the unemployment count since 2007 is only slightly greater than the population of the City of Fayetteville, which is the state’s sixth most populous municipality.”

Other troubling labor market indicators include a statewide unemployment rate that has exceeded 10 percent in 35 of the last 43 months, a labor force participation ratio that has fallen over the course of the year and is hovering near a 36-year low, and an extremely depressed employment-to-population ratio. Last month, just 56.1 percent of working-age North Carolinians were employed, a level up only somewhat from the modern low of 55.3 percent set in late 2011.

“North Carolina’s job market has lost energy throughout 2012,” observed Quinterno. “While the private-sector has grown, the bottom line is that the state has just 0.6 percent more jobs than it did last December and only 0.9 percent more jobs than was the case one year ago. North Carolina simply lacks enough jobs for all those who want and need work, and the job market is not growing rapidly enough to alter those dynamics anytime soon.”

08.08.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Report Traces Impact Of North Carolina Employment Service

CHAPEL HILL (August 8, 2012) – Earlier this week, the Employment and Training Administration, an agency within the US Department of Labor, released a research report entitled The Employment Service in Rural North Carolina: Insights from the “Great Recession.”

Prepared by South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy, the report explores the role that the 90 local offices of the North Carolina State Employment Service (ES) played in assisting the rural unemployed between 2007 and 2010.

Established in 1935, the ES was long part of the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina, which now is a component of the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The mission of the Employment Service is to provide publicly-funded labor exchange services to employed and unemployed workers and to firms seeking employees. The ES also manages unemployment insurance claims at the local level, administers the “work test” required of insurance claimants, and serves as a mandated partner in the state’s network of JobLink Career Centers. Employees and employers may access services remotely or at one of 90 local offices.

The study explores the role played by local ES offices in rural communities between 2007 and 2010, which was the height of the “Great Recession” in North Carolina. Attention centers on the popular policy argument that local ES offices ensure equal access to workforce services in rural communities. To that end, the study broke the policy argument into six distinct hypotheses and examined them quantitatively and qualitatively.

Specifically, the study documents the evolution of North Carolina’s service model, analyzes administrative data pertaining to service usage, and solicits stakeholder perspectives through semi-structured interviews. The study concludes by offering program recommendations and suggesting avenues for future inquiry.

The Employment and Training Administration commissioned the report as part of the 2010 Employment and Training Administration Research Papers Program, which competitively awarded funding to conduct original research and prepare scholarly papers on topics relating to the workforce investment system. Full descriptions of the program and all the funded research projects are available in federal Training and Employment Notice #3-12.

03.08.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

National Job Market Expanded In July

CHAPEL HILL (August 3, 2012) – The national labor market recovered from a dismal June by adding 163,000 more payroll jobs than it lost in July. That growth, however, proved insufficient to reduce either the number of persons who were unemployed or the unemployment rate, which remained at an elevated level of 8.3 percent.

“July marked the 22nd consecutive month of job growth 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 105,000 jobs per month, a pace that, while positive, will not drive unemployment down to normal levels anytime soon.”

In July, the nation’s employers added 163,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely in the private sector (+172,000), while government payrolls fell by 9,000 positions due mainly to cuts by state and local governments (-6,000 and -1,000, respectively). Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for May and June underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy gained 151,000 jobs over those two months, not the 157,000 positions previously reported.

Payroll levels in most major private-sector industry groups either grew or held steady in July. Professional and business services added the most positions (+49,000, with 55.3 percent of the growth occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by education and health services (+38,000 with growth essentially balanced between the education and health care fields) and leisure and hospitality services (+27,000, driven entirely by the accommodation and food service subsector). Manufacturing also netted 25,000 jobs, of which virtually all were related to the manufacture of durable goods.

“The American economy has added jobs every month for almost two years and has netted 1.1 million positions so far in 2012,” noted Quinterno. “The current average rate of job growth—roughly 151,000 positions per month—nevertheless will not close the large jobs gap facing the United States anytime soon.”

Weak employment conditions were evident in the July household survey. Last month, 12.8 million Americans (8.3 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. The number of unemployed Americans and the unemployment rate essentially held steady last month and were down compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, the size of the labor force contracted by 150,000 persons over the month, and the share of the population participating in the labor force held essentially steady at 63.7 percent. The share of the adult population with a job, meanwhile, remained at a depressed level (58.4 percent).

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (7.7 percent versus 7.5 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (14.1 percent) and Hispanic workers (10.3 percent) than among White ones (7.4 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 23.8 percent. Moreover, 6.9 percent of all veterans were unemployed; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 8.9 percent.

Jobs remained scarce in July. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 15 percent. Among unemployed workers, 40.7 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 38.8 weeks. The leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 56.1 percent of unemployed persons in July. Another 26.6 percent of unemployed persons in July were reentrants to the labor market, while 10.3 percent were new entrants.

“While the American economy added jobs in July, the overall rate of growth remains sub-par, and the fundamental dynamics of the national labor market have not changed so far 2012,” observed Quinterno. “There simply are not enough jobs for millions of Americans who want and need work, yet policymakers have refused to take any steps to address the problem. That inaction has locked the national labor market into a destructive and dispiriting status quo.”