News Releases

21.10.2011 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC Job Market Stumbles Through Sept.

CHAPEL HILL (October 21, 2011) – North Carolina’s job market stumbled through September, ending the month with 22,200 fewer payroll jobs than with which it started. After accounting for those losses, the state had just 0.2 percent more jobs than was the case at the start of 2011. Not only was September the worst month for job losses so far in 2011, but it also saw both the monthly number of unemployed individuals and the unemployment rate hit annual highs. These findings come from new data from the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.

“September erased virtually all of the meager progress that North Carolina’s job market had made during the first eight months of 2011,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Sizable losses in the private and public sectors canceled out more than three-fourths of the job gains recorded earlier in the year.”

In September, North Carolina employers cut 22,200 more payroll jobs than they added. Net losses occurred primarily in the public sector (-13,700 driven by a net loss of 16,400 local government jobs), while the private sector shed 8,500 jobs. May was the only other month in 2011 in which the private sector lost jobs, on net (also -8,500). Within the private sector, financial activities lost the most jobs in absolute terms (-3,000), followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,100), education and health services (also -2,100), and leisure and hospitality services (-1,900). Construction gained the most jobs in absolute terms (+2,800).

A positive revision to the August data found that the state gained 2,900 more payroll jobs than first reported (+19,400, versus an original estimate of +16,500). With that adjustment, North Carolina has lost, on net, 308,600 positions, or 7.4 percent of its payroll base, since December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 758 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of just 14,400 positions (+0.4 percent)

“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. “While public-sector employment had been a source of strength earlier in the downturn, it now is weighing on growth. Since February 2010, local government employment has fallen by 4.7 percent with state government employment declining by 5.3 percent.”

Between September 2010 and September 2011, North Carolina gained, on net, 9,700 jobs (+ 0.3 percent). Net public-sector losses (-18,700) offset some two-thirds of the net growth that occurred in the private sector (+28,400 positions). In terms of individual private industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute terms (+11,600, +2.4 percent). In the public sector, net losses stemmed from declines in state (-10,800, -5.5 percent) and local employment (-8,300, -1.9 percent).

The household data for September also were troubling. Last month, the size of the workforce rose slightly (+5,822, +0.1 percent) to 4.5 million. While the total number of employed individuals rose somewhat, most of the additional workers in the labor force joined the ranks of the unemployed (+4,498, +1 percent). In September, the number of unemployed workers reached an annual high, as well as the highest monthly total recorded since June 2010.

Over the year, the number of unemployed North Carolinians rose by 28,123 (+6.3 percent), while the number of employed individuals remained essentially flat at 4 million. Between September 2010 and September 2011, the size of the labor force increased by 32,370 individuals (+0.7 percent). Over the year, the unemployment rate rose to 10.5 percent from 10 percent. The September unemployment rate was the highest monthly one posted so far in 2011 and the highest one posted since June 2010, when the monthly rate also was 10.5 percent.

“North Carolina’s labor market has made no meaningful progress so far in 2011,” observed Quinterno. “The job gap has closed only marginally since January, and the unemployment rate has been trending upward since May. Especially alarming is the fact that the share of working-age North Carolinians with a job remains at the lowest level recorded since 1976. In September, 55.3 percent of working-age North Carolinians had jobs. This represents both a waste of human talent and a source of economic hardship for households and communities across the state.”

“The September job report illustrates that North Carolina, like the nation as a whole, is being savaged by a severe job crisis–a crisis that, by many indicators, is worsening. The seeming passivity of policymakers and civic leaders in the face of a crisis of such severity is becoming harder and harder to understand or accept.”

23.09.2011 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

August A Rough Month For Local Job Markets

CHAPEL HILL (September 23, 2011) – Between August 2010 and August 2011, unemployment rates rose in 76 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in 11 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. At the same time, 49 counties and 10 metros had labor forces in August that were smaller compared to one year ago. These findings come from new estimates from the Employment Security Commission.

“Employment conditions deteriorated 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. “In many places, unemployment is more pronounced than was the case in August 2010. Many local job markets simply have shown no signs of improvement.”

Since the economy fell into recession in December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 6.9 percent of its payroll employment base (-289,300 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 10.4 percent. In August, the state gained 16,500 more payroll jobs than it lost. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 1,872 jobs per month, leading to a cumulative gain of just 33,700 jobs (+0.9 percent).

Between July and August, unemployment rates rose in 47 counties, held steady in 21 counties, and fell in 32 counties. Unemployment rates were at or above 10 percent in 70 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 4.5 percent in Currituck County to 17.6 percent in Scotland County. Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates were higher in 76 counties, unchanged in 3 counties, and lower in 21 counties.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets remained particularly weak in August,” added Quinterno. “Last month, 11.4 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 10.1 percent of the metro labor force. Over the year, the size of the rural labor force and the number of employed rural residents rose slightly, but the number of unemployed individuals rose as well, which caused the unemployment rate to increase. When compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now is 2.7 percent smaller. Similarly, the number of unemployed individuals has doubled, while the number of employed persons has fallen by 8.7 percent.”

Last month, unemployment rates rose in 10 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Rocky Mount had the highest rate (13.6 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (12.5 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (8.2 percent), followed by Asheville (8.4 percent).

Compared to August 2010, unemployment rates were higher in 76 counties and 11 metros. Moreover, 49 counties and 10 metros had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-2.2 percent) recorded the largest decline in the size of its labor force, followed by Asheville (-1.4 percent). Rocky Mount posted the largest increase (+2.9 percent), followed by Fayetteville (+2.3 percent), and Winston-Salem (+1.5 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 4.8 percent since December 2007, and the combined August unemployment rate in the three metros equaled 9.9 percent. Of the three, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (8.8 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10.7 percent), and Charlotte (11.4 percent).

“Labor market condition worsened across much of North Carolina over the past year,” said Quinterno. “Private-sector job growth remains sluggish, and the gains that are occurring are being erased by public-sector cuts. So far this year, public-sector cuts have offset 26 percent of the private-sector gains recorded in the state. Many labor market indicators are moving in the wrong direction and are offering little evidence that improvements are likely to occur later in the year.”

16.09.2011 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

A Stormy Month For N.C.’s Job Market

CHAPEL HILL (September 16, 2011) – August was a stormy month for North Carolina’s labor market. Last month, the state gained 16,500 more payroll jobs than were lost, thanks to an increase in local government payrolls. At the same time, both the number of unemployed persons and the statewide unemployment rate rose sharply, with the unemployment rate reaching the highest level recorded since June 2010. These findings come from new data from the Employment Security Commission.

“Storm winds tossed around North Carolina’s labor market in August,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “A jump in local government employment tied in part to the start of the school year led to the second-highest monthly job gain posted so far in 2011, yet overall employment conditions remained weak. Last month, the labor force contracted, the number of people with a job fell, the unemployment rate reached its highest level in over a year, and the share of adults with a job fell to a 35-year low.”

In August, North Carolina employers added 16,500 more payroll jobs than they cut. Net gains occurred primarily in the public sector (+13,600, driven by a net gain of 16,800 local government jobs), while the private sector netted just 2,900 jobs. Within the private sector, professional and business services gained the most jobs in absolute and relative terms (+3,900, +0.8 percent), while trade, transportation, and utilities lost the most jobs in absolute terms (-3,600, driven by a net loss of 3,800 jobs in the retail trade sub-sector).

A revision to the July data also found that the state lost 2,100 more payroll jobs than first reported (-6,200, versus an original estimate of -4,100). With that adjustment, North Carolina has lost, on net, 289,300 positions, or 6.9 percent of its payroll base, since December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 1,872 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of just 33,700 positions (+0.9 percent)

“Compared to December 2007, North Carolina has fewer payroll jobs in every major industry sector except for educational and health services and leisure and hospitality services,” noted Quinterno. “While public-sector employment had been a source of strength earlier in the downturn, it recently has weighed on growth. Since February 2010, local government employment has fallen by 1 percent, and state government employment has declined by 7.7 percent.”

Between August 2010 and August 2011, North Carolina gained, on net, 21,100 jobs (+ 0.6 percent). Approximately 42 percent of the net growth that occurred in the private sector (+35,800 positions) was offset by net public-sector losses (-14,700). In terms of individual private industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute and relative terms (+15,500, +3.2 percent). In the public sector, net losses stemmed from declines in state (-16,300, -8.3 percent) and federal employment (-3,000, -4.3 percent).

The household data for August were particularly alarming. Last month, the total number of employed individuals fell by 14,524 (-0.4 percent), while the number of unemployed individuals rose by 11,747 (+2.6 percent). The size of the workforce fell slightly (-0.1 percent).

Over the year, the number of unemployed North Carolinians rose by 14,556 (+3.2 percent), while the number of employed individuals remained essentially flat. Between August 2010 and August 2011, the size of the labor force increased by 13,577 individuals (+0.3 percent). Over the year, the unemployment rate rose to 10.4 percent from 10.1 percent. The August unemployment rate also was the highest recorded since June 2010, a month when 10.5 percent of the labor force was unemployed.

“North Carolina’s labor market continues to move in the wrong direction,” observed Quinterno. “The job shortfall has closed only marginally, and the unemployment rate has been trending upward since March. Especially alarming is the fact that the share of working-age North Carolinians with a job has fallen to the lowest level recorded since 1976. In August, just 55.3 percent of working-age North Carolinians were employed.”

“Like the nation at large, North Carolina remains mired in a severe jobs crisis—a crisis that only has worsened in recent months,” added Quinterno. “There exist few signs that any kind of recovery is underway, and unless public leaders act aggressively, conditions will continue to deteriorate.”

02.09.2011 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Zero Job Growth Posted In August

CHAPEL HILL (September 2, 2011) – In August, the American economy added no more payroll jobs than it lost. While the private sector netted 17,000 positions, the public sector shed 17,000 jobs, resulting in a net gain of zero jobs. Also in August, 9.1 percent of the labor force was unemployed, while the underemployment rate ticked up to 16.2 percent. These findings come from today’s national employment report.

“The August employment report shows that the national labor market has stalled,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Job growth was nonexistent and joblessness remained widespread, as 25.4 million Americans reported being unemployed or underemployed.”

In August, the nation’s employers added no more payroll positions than they cut. A net loss of 17,000 public-sector jobs canceled out a meager gain of 17,000 private-sector jobs. Local government reductions (-20,000, linked primarily to a loss of 13,700 positions in local government education) drove the public-sector decline. In recent months, public-sector cuts have weighed down job growth. Since August 2010, government payrolls have fallen by 450,000 positions with this contraction offsetting 26.3 percent of the private-sector job growth that occurred during the same period.

Furthermore, the payroll employment estimates for June and July underwent downward revisions. With the changes, the economy netted 105,000 jobs over those two months, not 163,000 positions as previously reported.

Several private industries recorded job growth in August. Education and health services added the most positions, (+34,000), followed by professional and business services (+28,000). Information lost the most positions (-48,000), though the number is influenced by the fallout from a large, temporary strike by employees of Verizon Communications. Employment levels in most other major industries were unchanged in August.

“The August employment report is another entry in a series of increasingly weak reports,” noted Quinterno. “Over the past three months, net job growth has averaged just 35,000 positions. The American jobs machine clearly is malfunctioning.”

The inability of the current pace of job growth to alter employment conditions was evident in the August household survey. Last month, 14 million Americans (9.1 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 depressed. In August, the share of the adult population that was employed (58.2 percent) remained at a level last seen in the early 1980s.

Another cause for concern is the fact that long-term unemployment remains elevated. Last month, 42.9 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 August, proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (8.9 percent vs. 8 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16.7 percent) and Hispanic workers (11.3 percent) than among White ones (8 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 25.4 percent. Between July and August, unemployment rates for most every major demographic exhibited little change.

Additionally, 7.7 percent of all veterans were unemployed in August. The unemployment rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 9.8 percent.

“Jobs remained scarce in August,” added Quinterno. “This led many individuals simply to abandon their job searches. Compared to a year ago, America has a smaller labor force and more individuals who report being only marginally attached to the labor force.”

A more extensive measure of labor underutilization is the underemployment rate, which equaled 16.2 percent in August. Further evidence of the difficulty in finding a job is that, among unemployed workers, the average time out of work rose in August equaled 40.3 weeks. A year ago, the comparable figure was 33.5 weeks.

“The American economy did not create jobs in August, nor has it managed to create many jobs at all over the past several months. Conditions are not improving, yet policymakers remain strangely passive,” observed Quinterno. “Nothing suggests that a wait-and-see approach will produce outcomes different from those we are seeing.”

26.08.2011 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Weak Job Conditions Prevail Across N.C.

CHAPEL HILL (August 26, 2011) – Between July 2010 and July 2011, unemployment rates rose in 54 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in 6 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas. At the same time, 49 counties and 8 metros had labor forces in July that were smaller compared to a year ago. These findings come from new estimates from the Employment Security Commission.

“Sizable reductions in local government payrolls in July led to a further deterioration in employment conditions across North Carolina,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “In many communities, there were no meaningful improvements in the local job market.”

Since the economy fell into recession in December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 7.3 percent of its payroll employment base (-303,700 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to the current level of 10.3 percent. In July, the state lost 4,100 more payroll jobs than it gained. Over the past year, employers cumulatively added 4,400 more payroll jobs than they cut, but that level of growth—an average of just 367 jobs per month—simply was insufficient to bring down joblessness.”

Compared to the prior month, unemployment rates rose in 39 counties in July, held steady in 13 counties, and fell in 48 counties. Unemployment rates were at or above 10 percent in 66 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 5.2 percent in Currituck County to 17.7 percent in Scotland County. Compared to a year ago, unemployment rates were higher in 54 counties, unchanged in 2 counties, and lower in 44 counties.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets remained especially pressured in July,” added Quinterno. “Last month, 11.3 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, as opposed to 9.9 percent of the metro labor force. While conditions in non-metro communities improved marginally over the year, unemployment remained widespread. When compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now is 2.1 percent smaller. Similarly, the number of unemployed individuals has doubled, while the number of employed persons has dropped by 8 percent.”

Last month, unemployment rates fell in 11 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Rocky Mount had the highest rate (13.8 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (12.4 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (7.9 percent), followed by Asheville (8.1 percent).

Compared to July 2010, unemployment rates were higher in 54 counties and 6 metros. Moreover, 49 counties and 8 metros had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-2.7 percent) recorded the largest decline in the size of its labor force, followed by Jacksonville (-2.1 percent). Rocky Mount posted the largest increase (+2.6 percent), followed by Fayetteville (+2.3 percent) and Raleigh-Cary and Wilmington (both +0.7 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 3.6 percent since December 2007, and the combined July unemployment rate in the three metros equaled 9.8 percent. Of the three, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (8.5 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10.6 percent) and Charlotte (11.5 percent). While improvements occurred in all three areas over the year, particularly in the Research Triangle and Piedmont Triad, the improvements did not fundamentally alter the employment situation.

“In recent months North Carolina has witnessed a steady worsening of labor market conditions,” said Quinterno. “Private-sector job growth remains sluggish, and the gains that are occurring are being erased by public-sector cuts. Most indicators now are trending in the wrong direction, and 2011 is on its way to becoming the third consecutive lost year for working North Carolinians.”