CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 24, 2016) – In February, employers in North Carolina cut 900 more payroll jobs than they added, with slight losses in the private sector offset by slight gains in the public sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 86,700 more payroll jobs than it lost, due primarily to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in February was down slightly from January and was 0.2 percentage points lower than a year earlier.
These findings come from new data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.
“Through the first two months of 2016, North Carolina gained 20,200 more payroll jobs than it lost,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “For comparison, the corresponding figure in 2015 was a gain of 17,700 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 127,400 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”
Between January 2016 and February 2016, North Carolina employers cut 900 more jobs than they added (+/- 0 percent). Private-sector payrolls shed, on net, 1,400 positions (+/- 0 percent), with public sector payrolls growing slightly (+500 jobs, +0.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most payroll jobs (+4,200, +0.7 percent), while the education and health services sector shed the most jobs, on net (-1,800, -0.3 percent).
A revision to the January payroll data found that the state gained fewer jobs than first reported (+21,100 versus an original estimate of +23,200 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 127,400 more payroll positions (+3.1 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,300 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 454,000 positions (+11.8 percent).
Over the year, North Carolina employers added 86,700 more jobs than they cut (+2.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 81,700 positions (+2.3 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 5,000 jobs (+0.7 percent). Within private industry, most every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+23,700, +4.1 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities (+20,000, +2.5 percent) and leisure and hospitality services (+15,300, +3.4 percent) sectors.
“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 has not yet closed the state’s sizable job gap,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has more jobs than it did when the recession started, but not as many as it needs.”
The monthly household data for February contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate in February was 5.5 percent, which was down from the 5.6 percent rate logged in January. Between January and February, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 164 persons (-0.1 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 25,687 (+0.6 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 25,523 persons (+0.5 percent).
Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.7 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians falling by 3,998 persons (-1.5 percent). During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 103,145 individuals (+2.3 percent), and the size of the labor force increased by 99,147 persons (+2.1 percent).
Other improvements recorded over the course of the year include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market (to 61.4 percent from 60.9 percent) and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed (to 58 percent from 57.4 percent). Although both of these measures have increased recently, they remain not too far from the lowest monthly rates recorded at any point since January 1976.
“North Carolina’s labor market continues to improve at a slow-but-steady pace,” said Quinterno. “The pace is basically sufficient to keep pace with the growth in the size of the labor force, while bringing about some reductions in the large job gap that remains from the last recession—a recession that began over eight years ago.”