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20.05.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Editor’s Note: April Jobs Report

Editor’s Note: April Jobs Report

South by North Strategies will not be releasing a written analysis of the April 2010 jobs report for North Carolina on the morning of May 20, 2011.

Firm representatives, however, will be available for comment via phone or email. Interested journalists should contact John Quinterno at johnq[at]sbnstrategies[dot]com or 919-622-2392.

Thank you for your interest in South by North Strategies, Ltd.

06.05.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on A National Labor Market In Flux

A National Labor Market In Flux

CHAPEL HILL (May 6, 2011) – The national economy netted 244,000 payroll positions in April, which marked the seventh consecutive month of job growth. Yet the positive payroll figure masked several troubling developments—developments that point to a potential summer slowdown in the job market. These findings come from today’s national employment report.

“While net job growth of 244,000 positions in April represents a step forward, the labor market also took a few steps back,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Despite the job growth, the share of the working-age population that is employed remains near a historic low, and a new round of job displacement appears to be taking shape.”

In April, the nation’s employers added 244,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely within the private sector (+268,000), while government payrolls fell by 24,000 positions due to cuts by local and state governments. In recent months, public-sector payroll cuts have weighed down job growth. Also, the payroll employment numbers for February and March were revised upward. With the revisions, the economy netted 456,000 jobs over those two months rather than the 410,000 positions previously reported.

Private-sector job gains in April occurred primarily in retail trade (+57,100), professional and business services (+51,000), education and health services (+49,000), and leisure and hospitality services (+46,000, primarily in the accommodations and food services subsector). All other private-sector industries either grew slightly or held steady in April.

“The April employment report suggests that a level of job growth has taken hold in the United States,” noted Quinterno. “Over the past three months, net job growth has averaged 233,000 positions, but that pace is insufficient to undo the recession’s damage anytime soon.”

The inability of the current pace of job growth to alter employment conditions was reflected in the April household survey. Last month, 13.7 million Americans (9 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the unemployment rate and number of unemployed individuals dropped over the past year, so did the share of the population participating in the labor market. In April, the share of the population participating in the labor force (64.2 percent) was at a level last seen in the early 1980s.

Another cause for concern was the fact the number of newly unemployed individuals rose in April. Last month, 20 percent of all unemployed individuals had been jobless for less than 5 weeks. This share has been trending upward since December, which suggests that a new round of worker displacements is taking shape.

In April, proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (8.8 percent vs. 7.9 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16.1 percent) and Hispanic workers (11.8 percent) than among White ones (8 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 24.9 percent. Between March and April, unemployment rates for most every major demographic group were little changed.

Additionally, 7.7 percent of all veterans were unemployed in April. The unemployment rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 10.9 percent.

“Despite the growth in payroll employment, jobs remained difficult to find in April,” added Quinterno. “Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 15.9 percent. Among unemployed workers, 43.4 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 38.3 weeks.”

“The April employment report suggests that labor market conditions have stabilized and that the private sector is adding jobs, though a significant share of that growth is being canceled out by job losses in the public sector,” observed Quinterno. “Unfortunately, recent improvements are not good enough to reverse the damage caused by the recession. Other signs in the April report, meanwhile, point to a possible softening of the labor market over the summer months.”

27.04.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Progress Of A Kind

Progress Of A Kind

CHAPEL HILL (April 27, 2011) – Between March 2010 and March 2011, unemployment rates fell in 98 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. At the same time, 81 counties and 13 metro areas had labor forces in March that were smaller than they were one year ago. These findings come from estimates released today by the Employment Security Commission.

“While unemployment rates fell across North Carolina over the past year, many local job markets remain deeply scarred by the recession,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Joblessness remains widespread, and despite some recent improvements, job growth is not occurring at the pace needed to accommodate all the North Carolinians who need and want work.”

Since the economy fell into recession in December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 6.6 percent of its payroll employment base (-277,100 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to the current level of 9.7 percent. In March, the state gained 13,900 more payroll jobs than were lost. Over the past year, North Carolina employers have added 36,500 more payroll jobs than they have cut.

Unemployment rates fell across much of the state in March. Unemployment rates were at or above 10 percent in 61 counties, but compared to a year ago, unemployment rates were lower in 98 counties. Individual county rates in March ranged from 6.1 percent in Orange County to 16.4 percent in Graham County. Of the five counties with the lowest unemployment rates, four were in the Research Triangle area (Orange, Chatham, Durham, and Wake counties).

“Labor markets in non-metropolitan communities remain particularly weak,” added Quinterno. “Last month, 10.8 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.3 percent of the metro labor force. While the non-metro unemployment rate declined over the course of the year, so did the size of the labor force. When compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force is 3.5 percent smaller.”

Last month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12.5 percent), followed by the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area (11.9 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (7.1 percent).

Compared to March 2010, unemployment rates were lower in 98 counties and every metro area. Yet 81 counties and 13 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-4.8 percent) recorded the largest decline, followed by Winston-Salem (-2.5 percent) and Rocky Mount (-2.4 percent). Raleigh-Cary posted the only gain (+0.2 percent).

“While seven of North Carolina’s metro areas—led by Raleigh-Cary, Burlington, and Wilmington—recorded modest rates of employment growth over the past year, overall growth levels were insufficient to cure joblessness,” cautioned Quinterno. “Much of the recent improvement in unemployment rates is due to the exiting of workers from the labor market, even though such individuals are effectively unemployed.”

In the long term, any meaningful recovery will be driven by growth in the state’s three major metro regions: Charlotte, the Research Triangle, and the Piedmont Triad. Yet growth has been sluggish. Collectively, employment in these three metro regions has fallen by 4.4 percent since December 2007. The combined March unemployment rate in the three major metros equaled 9 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (7.7 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10 percent), and Charlotte (10.7 percent).

“Since December 2009, the month when then the state’s labor market bottomed out, local unemployment rates have fallen across North Carolina, but during the same time, the total size of the state’s labor force fell as well,” noted Quinterno. “While some meaningful progress has been made over the last year, local labor markets remain far from healthy.”

19.04.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on NC Labor Market Improves In March

NC Labor Market Improves In March

CHAPEL HILL (April 19, 2011) – In March, employers in North Carolina added 13,900 more payroll positions than they eliminated, according to data released today by the Employment Security Commission. The monthly gain was the third-largest one recorded since the state’s labor market bottomed out in late 2009. Nevertheless, joblessness remains a serious problem. Over the past year, total payroll employment in the state has risen by just 0.9 percent.

“March marked the third consecutive month of job growth in North Carolina,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Unfortunately, the rate of growth remains insufficient to close the jobs gap anytime soon. The state’s labor market is far from healthy.”

Last month, North Carolina employers added 13,900 more payroll positions than they cut. Net gains occurred in the private (+12,700) and public (+1,200) sectors. Among private industries, professional and business services netted the most positions (+6,000), followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (+2,200), and leisure and hospitality services (+1,800). The gains were offset by drops in other services (-1,600), manufacturing (-600), and information (-300).

Additionally, a revision to the February data found that the state gained 1,500 more payroll positions than first thought (+18,900 versus an original estimate of +17,400). With that revision, North Carolina has lost, on net, 277,100 positions, or 6.6 percent of its payroll employment base, since December 2007.

“During the first quarter of 2011, North Carolina’s labor market gained 37,800 more positions than it lost,” noted Quinterno. “The quarter was the first one since 2007 to see job growth in each month of a quarter. Unfortunately, that growth was too modest to offset the extraordinary job losses recorded during the recession.”

Between March 2010 and March 2011, North Carolina netted 36,500 jobs (+0.9 percent). All of the growth (+45,600 positions) occurred in the private sector, while the public sector shed 9,100 positions. In terms of individual industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute and relative terms (+25,300, +5.3 percent). Construction shed the most jobs in absolute and relative terms (-6,200, -3.5 percent). In the public sector, net job loss was driven by reductions at the state (-4,300, -2.2 percent) and local (-5,000, -1.1 percent) levels.

The household data for March, meanwhile, contained some positive signs. Last month, the total number of employed individuals increased by 13,402 (+0.3 percent), while the number of unemployed individuals fell by 1,949 (-0.1 percent). The size of the workforce also grew by 11,453 individuals (+0.3 percent). And, both the labor force participation rate and employment to population ratio improved in March.

Over the year, the number of unemployed North Carolinians fell by 80,359 (-15.6 percent). Unfortunately, much of this decline was attributable to individuals exiting the labor force. Between March 2010 and March 2011, the size of the labor force contracted by 83,397 individuals (-1.6 percent). Over the year, the unemployment rate fell sharply, dropping to 9.7 percent from 11.3 percent.

“While welcome, the positive job growth recorded over the past year has done little to close the state’s job gap or drive down unemployment to acceptable levels,” observed Quinterno. “The contraction in the size of the labor force remains a real concern. The share of the adult population with a job is lower now than it was in December 2007. In March 2011, 55.8 percent of working-age North Carolinians had jobs, compared to 62.4 percent in December 2007.”

“The positive job growth recorded during the first quarter of 2011 should not obscure the fact that North Carolina’s labor market remains in terrible shape by any objective measure,” added Quinterno. “Since the labor market bottomed out in December 2009, the total number of jobs in the state has increased by just 1.1 percent. At that pace, it will take years to regain the ground lost during the recession.”

06.04.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Recovery Still A Long Way Off

Recovery Still A Long Way Off

CHAPEL HILL (April 6, 2011) – In February, unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 67 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and 6 of its 14 metro areas. And, compared to a year ago, 87 counties and 11 metro areas had smaller labor forces. These findings come from estimates released today by the Employment Security Commission.

“While February was the best month of job growth seen in North Carolina in some time, that growth did not radically alter local labor market conditions,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Sizable portions of local labor forces are out of work, and new jobs remain difficult to find.”

Since the economy fell into recession in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 7 percent of its payroll employment base (-292,500 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to the current level of 10.1 percent. In February, the state gained 17,400 more payroll jobs than were lost.

Every region of the state experienced slack labor market conditions in February. Unemployment rates were at or above 10 percent in 67 counties; compared to a year ago, however, 93 counties had lower unemployment rates. Individual county rates in February ranged from 6.2 percent in Orange County to 18.1 percent in Swain County.

“Labor markets in non-metropolitan communities remain especially weak,” added Quinterno. “Last month, 11.2 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.6 percent of the metro labor force. Alarmingly, the non-metropolitan labor force continued to shrink. Since December 2007, the non-metropolitan labor force has declined by 4.5 percent, or 60,415 individuals.”

Last month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12.7 percent), followed by the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area (12.3 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (7.3 percent).

Because of the lack of seasonal adjustments, monthly fluctuations in local unemployment rates must be interpreted cautiously. A useful comparison is between February 2010 and 2011.

Compared to February 2010, unemployment rates were lower in 93 counties and 13 metro areas. Yet 87 counties and 11 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-2.7 percent) had the largest decline, followed by Winston-Salem (-2.4 percent) and Rocky Mount (-2.1 percent). Asheville posted the largest gain (+0.5 percent).

“While nine of North Carolina’s metro areas—led by Raleigh-Cary, Asheville, and Burlington, —recorded modest rates of employment growth over the past year, overall growth levels were insufficient to drive down joblessness,” cautioned Quinterno. “Much of the recent improvement in unemployment rates is due to the exiting of workers from the labor market. Many such individuals are effectively jobless.”

In the long term, any meaningful recovery will be driven by growth in the state’s three major metro regions: Charlotte, the Research Triangle, and the Piedmont Triad. Yet growth has been sluggish. Collectively, employment in these three metro regions has fallen by 5.6 percent since December 2007. The combined February unemployment rate in the three major metros equaled 9.3 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (8 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10.3 percent) and Charlotte (11 percent).

“Since December 2009, the month when then the state’s labor market bottomed out, local unemployment rates have fallen across much of the state, but during the same time, the total size of the state’s labor force has fallen as well,” noted Quinterno. “Declines in unemployment caused by jobless individuals abandoning their searches really are not much to celebrate and point to just how weak labor conditions remain almost two years into a recovery.”