News Releases

10.02.2012 News Releases No Comments

No Rebound For NC Job Market In 2011

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.

01.02.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Job Markets Post Little Progress In 2011

CHAPEL HILL (February 1, 2012) – Between December 2010 and December 2011, unemployment rates rose in 68 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in 8 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. In December 2011, 29 counties and 3 metros had labor forces that were smaller in size compared to one year ago. These findings come from new estimates from the North Carolina Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security.

“December was the weak end to weak year for most of North Carolina’s local labor markets,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “In 59 counties, at least 10 percent of the labor force was unemployed in December, up from 57 counties a year ago. Similarly, the size of the labor force fell in 29 counties, which suggests that joblessness is more widespread than captured in the official unemployment statistics.”

Since the economy fell into recession in December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 7.1 percent of its payroll employment base (-295,300 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 9.8 percent. In December, the state shed 4,400 more payroll jobs than it added. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 1,300 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of just 27,700 jobs.

Between November and December, unemployment rates rose in 93 counties and were at or above 10 percent in 59 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 6.1 percent in Orange County to 17.5 percent in Graham County. Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates were higher in 68 counties, unchanged in 5 counties, and lower in 27 counties.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets remained weak in 2011,” added Quinterno. “In December, 10.9 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.4 percent of the metro labor force. Over the year, the rural unemployment rate held steady. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force is 3.5 percent smaller. Similarly, the number of employed rural residents has fallen by 9 percent, while the number of unemployed rural persons has grown by 90.8 percent and now numbers 141,741.”

Last month, unemployment rates rose in 13 of the state’s metropolitan areas and fell in one metro (Burlington). Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12.9 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (11.9 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (7.5 percent), followed by Asheville (7.9 percent).

Compared to December 2010, unemployment rates were higher in 69 counties and 8 metros. Moreover, 29 counties and 3 metros had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Wilmington recorded the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-2 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-1.9 percent). Fayetteville posted the largest increase (+3.3 percent), followed by Greensboro (+1.9 percent) and Greenville (+1.6 percent).

In the long term, any meaningful recovery will hinge on growth in the state’s three major regions: Charlotte, the Research Triangle, and the Piedmont Triad. Yet growth remains sluggish. Collectively, employment in these three metro regions has fallen by 4.2 percent since December 2007, and the combined December unemployment rate in the three metros equaled 9.1 percent. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (8 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (9.8 percent), and Charlotte (10.5 percent).

“North Carolina’s local labor markets ended 2011 little different than they started the year,” said Quinterno. “Statewide job growth has been anemic at best, and as a result, nearly a half million North Carolinians are jobless and actively seeking work. The same basic dynamic is playing out to differing degrees in communities throughout the state.”

24.01.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC Job Market Ends 2011 On A Flat Note

CHAPEL HILL (January 24, 2012) – North Carolina’s job market ended 2011 little different than it started the year. In December, the number of payroll jobs in the slate fell slightly, as did the number of unemployed persons and the statewide unemployment rate. Over the year, North Carolina netted 19,600 jobs (+0.5 percent) and saw the number of unemployed persons rise by 9,154 (+2.1 percent). The unemployment rate ticked up 0.1 percentage points, ending the year at 9.9 percent. These findings come from new data from the Division of Employment Security.

“December’s job market performance was a disappointing end to a disappointing year,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The total number of jobs in the state was essentially flat, rising by just 0.5 percent in 2011. Despite the net addition of 19,600 jobs, North Carolina has 295,300 fewer jobs than it did in December 2007.”

In December, North Carolina employers shed 4,400 more payroll jobs than they added. Net losses occurred exclusively in the private sector (-5,900, -0.2 percent), while the public sector netted 1,500 jobs (+0.2 percent). Within the private sector, professional and business services lost the most jobs in absolute terms (-3,900, -0.8 percent) with the losses divided almost equally between the administrative and waste management and professional, scientific, and technical services subsectors. The trade, transportation, and utilities sector cut 1,800 positions (-0.3 percent). Meanwhile, manufacturing netted 500 jobs (+0.1 percent), while leisure and hospitality services added 300 jobs (+0.1 percent). In the public sector, a loss of 1,900 jobs within state government offset a gain of 2,800 local government and 600 federal positions.

A positive revision to the November data found that the state gained 4,100 more jobs than first reported (+7,900 versus +3,800). With that data revision, North Carolina has lost, on net, 295,300 positions, or 7.1 percent of its payroll base, since December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 1,300 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 27,700 positions (+0.7 percent). Put differently, the state’s labor market has replaced just 8.6 percent of the number of jobs lost at the height of the “Great Recession.”

“Compared to December 2007, North Carolina has fewer payroll jobs in every major industry group except for educational and health services and leisure and hospitality services,” noted Quinterno. “Despite experiencing some consistent growth in the private sector in recent months, losses in the public sector have negated much of the modest private-sector gain. Since February 2010, local government employment has fallen by 2.5 percent, and state government employment has contracted by 5.4 percent. Over that span, declines in the public sector have offset 45.6 percent of the gains in the private sector.”

Between December 2010 and December 2011, North Carolina gained, on net, 19,600 jobs (+0.5 percent). Net public-sector losses (-9,800, -1.4 percent) offset 33.3 percent of the net private-sector gains (+29,400 positions, +0.9 percent). In terms of individual private industries, trade, transportation, and utilities grew the most in absolute terms (+9,200, +1.3 percent), while information lost the most jobs (-1,100, -1.6 percent). In the public sector, net losses stemmed from drops in state (-6,500, -3.4 percent) and local (-4,500, -1 percent) employment.

The household data for December also were weak. Last month, the size of the labor force rose slightly (+4,339, +0.1 percent) to 4.51 million. While the total number of employed individuals rose (+9,532, +0.2 percent) and the number of unemployed individuals fell (-5,193, -1.1 percent), unemployment remained at an elevated level of 9.9 percent.

Between December 2010 and December 2011, the size of the labor force increased by 45,822 individuals (+1 percent). Over the year, the unemployment rate rose by 0.1 percentage points, climbing to 9.9 percent from 9.8 percent. The monthly statewide unemployment rate has been at least 9.7 in every month since February 2009.

“North Carolina’s labor market ended 2011 on a flat note,” observed Quinterno. “Minimal progress in closing the job gap was made during the year, and the unemployment rate is higher now than it was a year ago. Especially alarming is the fact that the share of working-age North Carolinians with a job remains near the lowest level recorded since 1976. In December, only 55.6 percent of working-age North Carolinians had jobs, down from 62.4 percent in December 2007.”

“The December employment report suggests that North Carolina’s labor market posted almost no progress over the course of the year. Four years after the onset of the Great Recession, little suggests that the job market has made—or is about to make—significant strides in putting sizable numbers of displaced Tar Heels back to work.”

06.01.2012 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

National Labor Market Improved In Dec.

CHAPEL HILL (January 6, 2011) – In December, the American economy gained 200,000 more payroll jobs than it lost. The private sector netted 212,000 positions, while the public sector shed 12,000 jobs, due overwhelmingly to payroll cuts on the part of local governments. Also, some 8.5 percent of the labor force was unemployed in December, and the underemployment rate totaled 15.2 percent. These findings come from today’s national employment report.

“The December employment report was one of the best of 2011,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Job growth outpaced the level needed to keep pace with the size of the working-age population and the unemployment rate fell to its lowest point of the year. Nevertheless, unemployment remains elevated for most every population group, and net job growth still is not robust enough to reverse that situation anytime soon.”

In December, the nation’s employers added 200,000 more payroll jobs than they cut. The private sector added 212,000 positions, but a net loss of 12,000 public-sector jobs erased 5.7 percent of that gain. Local government reductions (-14,000, due mainly to a loss of 9,400 local government education jobs) drove the public-sector decline. In recent months, public-sector cuts have weighed down job growth. Since December 2010, government payrolls have shed 280,000 positions (-1.3 percent). This drop offset 14.6 percent of the private-sector job growth that occurred during the same period.

Additionally, the payroll employment estimates for October and November underwent revisions. With the changes, the economy netted 212,000 jobs over those two months, not 220,000 positions as first reported.

Every major private-sector industry group posted net job growth in December. Trade, transportation, and utilities netted 90,000 positions with 31 percent of that growth occurring in the retail trade sub-sector (+27,900) and 46.7 percent in the courier and messenger sub-sector (+42,200). Education and health care services netted 29,000 positions. Manufacturing gained 23,000 positions, and leisure and hospitality services gained 21,000 positions, driven entirely by hiring in the accommodation and food services sub-sector (+24,700). Even construction netted 17,000 positions.

“Over the past year, net job growth has averaged almost 137,000 positions per month,” noted Quinterno. “This pace is grossly insufficient for replacing the jobs lost during the Great Recession. At this rate, it would take another 3.7 years to replace the 6.1 million jobs lost since December 2007. Even an average monthly gain of 200,000 jobs would not close the job gap until sometime in 2014.”

The inability of the current pace of job growth to alter fundamentally employment conditions was evident in the December household survey. Last month, 13.1 million Americans (8.5 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the unemployment rate and number of unemployed individuals dropped over the past year, the share of the population with a job remained stuck at a depressed level. In December, the share of the adult population that was employed (58.5 percent) remained near levels last seen in the early 1980s.

Another cause for concern is the fact that long-term unemployment remains elevated. Last month, 42.5 percent of all unemployed workers had been out of work for at least 27 weeks. A year ago, the comparable figure was 44.3 percent.

In December, proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (8 percent vs. 7.9 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.8 percent) and Hispanic workers (11 percent) than among White ones (7.5 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 23.1 percent. Between November and December, the unemployment rate among adult men fell, but the rates for most every other major demographic group held steady.

Additionally, 7.7 percent of all veterans were unemployed in December. The unemployment rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 13.1 percent.

“Jobs remained scarce in December,” added Quinterno. “This led some 50,000 individuals simply to abandon their job searches between November and December. In December, just 64 percent of the working-age population participated in the labor force, down from 64.3 percent a year ago.”

A more extensive measure of labor underutilization is the underemployment rate, which equaled 15.2 percent in December. Further evidence of the difficulty in finding a job is that, among unemployed workers, the average time out of work in December equaled 40.8 weeks, compared to 34.9 weeks a year ago.

“The American economy has succeeded in creating modest numbers of jobs over the past year, yet labor market conditions remain far from healthy. The December jobs report should not obscure the fact that the labor market is not recovering in ways likely to be perceptible to most workers anytime soon. Nothing in today’s report suggests that policymakers can declare ‘mission accomplished’ and turn away from the jobs crisis. ”

02.12.2011 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Labor Market Records Some Growth In November

CHAPEL HILL (December 2, 2011) – In November, the American economy gained 120,000 more payroll jobs than it lost. While the private sector netted 140,000 positions, the public sector shed 20,000 jobs, due overwhelmingly to payroll cuts on the part of local and state governments. Also, some 8.6 percent of the labor force was unemployed in November, and the underemployment rate equaled 15.6 percent. These findings come from today’s national employment report.

“The November employment report was a weak one,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Job growth outpaced the level needed to keep pace with the size of the working-age population but was insufficient to replace the positions lost earlier in the downturn. The unemployment rate did fall in November, though roughly half of the decline was attributable to individuals leaving the labor market altogether rather than finding jobs.”

In November, the nation’s employers added 120,000 more payroll jobs than they cut. The private sector added 140,000 positions, but a net loss of 20,000 public-sector jobs erased 14.3 percent of that gain. Local government reductions (-11,000, due mainly to a loss of 6,000 education jobs) drove the public-sector decline. In recent months, public-sector cuts have weighed down job growth. Since November 2010, government payrolls have shed 278,000 positions (-1.3 percent). This drop offset 14.8 percent of the private-sector job growth that occurred during the same period.

Additionally, the payroll employment estimates for September and October underwent upward revisions. With the changes, the economy netted 310,000 jobs over those two months, not 238,000 positions as first reported.

Several private industries recorded net job growth in November. Trade, transportation, and utilities netted 58,000 positions with 85.8 percent of that growth occurring in the retail trade sub-sector (+49,800). Professional and business services added 33,000 jobs, of which 63.3 percent were in the administrative and waste services sub-sector (+20,900), which includes temporary help services (+22,300). Education and health care services netted 27,000 positions, while leisure and hospitality services gained 22,000 positions, almost entirely in the accommodation and food services sub-sector (+20,900). The construction industry lost 12,000 positions, and the information industry shed 4,000 jobs.

“The November employment report is not a particularly impressive one,” noted Quinterno. “Over the past year, net job growth has averaged 133,300 positions per month–a level grossly insufficient for replacing the jobs lost during the Great Recession.”

The inability of the current pace of job growth to alter employment conditions was evident in the November household survey. Last month, 13.3 million Americans (8.6 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the unemployment rate and number of unemployed individuals dropped over the past year, the share of the population with a job remains depressed. In November, the share of the adult population that was employed (58.5 percent) remained near levels last seen in the early 1980s.

Another cause for concern is the fact that long-term unemployment remains elevated. Last month, 43 percent of all unemployed workers had been out of work for at least 27 weeks. A year ago, the comparable figure was 42.2 percent.

In November, proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (8.3 percent vs. 7.8 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (11.4 percent) than among White ones (7.6 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 23.7 percent. Between October and November, the unemployment rates among adult men and White workers fell, but the rates for most every other major demographic group held steady.

Additionally, 7.4 percent of all veterans were unemployed in November. The unemployment rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 11.1 percent.

“Jobs remained scarce in November,” added Quinterno. “This led many individuals simply to abandon their job searches. Compared to a year ago, America has a labor force that is smaller despite overall population growth, while the number of working-age individuals who are effectively jobless remains at a disturbingly elevated level.”

A more extensive measure of labor underutilization is the underemployment rate, which equaled 15.6 percent in November. Further evidence of the difficulty in finding a job is that, among unemployed workers, the average time out of work in November equaled 40.9 weeks, compared to 33.9 weeks a year ago.

“The American economy has not managed to create many jobs over the past year, and as a result, labor market conditions clearly have not fundamentally improved. While the scope and contours of the problems are plainly evident in the data, policymakers are proving reluctant to pursue solutions that would help millions of Americans. Joblessness clearly is the greatest problem facing the American economy.”