CHAPEL HILL (February 10, 2012) – North Carolina’s labor market experienced modest payroll employment growth in 2011, netting a total of 19,600 jobs (+0.5 percent). With such restrained growth, little progress was made against joblessness. The state ended the year with more unemployed workers and a higher unemployment rate than it had one year earlier.
These findings come from a year-end review of labor market conditions released today by South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. Available at Policy Points, the firm’s blog, the year-end review summarizes the major labor market trends of 2011.
“North Carolina netted more jobs in 2011 than in 2010, but the growth was insufficient to recover much of the ground lost during the recession,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies.”2011 was a ‘good’ year relative to the dismal standards of the recent past, but the performance of the labor market remained unimpressive when measured against any objective yardstick. Not only did North Carolina have fewer jobs in December 2011 than it did in December 2007, when the national recession began, but it also had fewer jobs than it did in December 1999. North Carolina simply has logged no net job growth over the last 12 years.”
The review notes that, on a number of indicators, the state’s labor market made little progress in 2011. While private-sector employment grew slightly, sizable reductions in public-sector payrolls offset one-third of the net gain. Even then, the private sector did not grow enough to put a perceptible dent in the monthly unemployment rate, which averaged 10 percent for the year.
“Economic hardship remained widespread in 2011,” added Quinterno. “Nearly 18 of every 100 members of the state’s labor force were underemployed due to the relative scarcity of job openings.”
The review expresses particular concern about the decline of the employment-to-population ratio to its lowest level since 1976, the prospects of the long-term unemployed, and the struggles facing families trying to make ends meet in the wake of job losses. The review notes, for example, that in October 2011, the most recent month with data, 17.6 percent of the state’s population was participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps). The number of participants has grown by 79.2 percent since December 2007, as job losses have pushed the incomes of many households below the program’s strict income eligibility level.
“Unfortunately, there exists little evidence that points to an imminent change from the status quo,” observed Quinterno. “Many factors could weigh on the state’s economy in 2012, and absent robust job growth, joblessness and the associated hardships will remain widespread. 2012 could well be the fifth consecutive year of negative or minimal job growth in North Carolina.”
The full review is at http://www.sbnstrategies.com/?p=9798. Individuals also may access the full review on a smartphone by scanning the Quick Response code below.