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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.”

01.04.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on A Bit Of Labor Market Momentum

A Bit Of Labor Market Momentum

CHAPEL HILL (April 1, 2011) – The national economy netted 216,000 payroll positions in March. This marked the sixth consecutive month of job growth. While strong by recent standards, the March level of payroll growth failed to alter the basic employment picture. In fact, the unemployment rate and associated measures of joblessness and labor utilization changed little last month. These findings come from the latest national employment report.

“Net job growth of 216,000 positions in March represents a real step forward,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the past two months, payroll employment has increased at a level not seen in several years. Moreover, the growth is insufficient to undo the damage caused by the 2007-09 recession.”

In March, the nation’s employers added 216,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred entirely within the private sector (+230,000), while government payrolls fell by 14,000 positions due to payroll reductions by local governments. In recent months, payroll cuts by local governments have held back job growth. Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for January and February were revised upwards. With the revisions, the economy netted 262,000 jobs over those two months rather than the 255,000 positions previously reported.

Private-sector gains in March occurred primarily in professional and business services (+78,000), education and health services (+45,000), leisure and hospitality services (+37,000), and retail trade (+17,700). With the exception of the construction and information industries, all other private-sector industries grew in March.

“The March employment report suggests that a level of job growth has taken hold in the United States,” noted Quinterno. “Over the past two months, net job growth has averaged 205,000 positions, but the pace is insufficient to replace the jobs lost during the recession.”

The inability of the current pace of job growth to alter employment conditions was reflected in the March household survey. Last month, 13.5 million Americans (8.8 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the unemployment rate and number of unemployed individuals fell over the past year, so did the size of the labor force. In March, the share of the population participating in the labor force (64.2 percent) was not only lower than one year ago, but also was at a level last seen in the early 1980s.

Last month, proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (8.6 percent vs. 7.7 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (11.3 percent) than among White ones (7.9 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 24.5 percent. Between February and March, unemployment rates for most every major demographic group were little changed.

Furthermore, nine percent of all veterans were unemployed in March. 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 March,” added Quinterno. “Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 15.7 percent. Among unemployed workers, 45.5 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 39 weeks.”

“The March employment report suggests that labor market conditions have stabilized and that the private sector is adding jobs, although some of that growth is being canceled out by job losses in the public sector,” observed Quinterno. “Unfortunately, the recent improved level of growth simply is not good enough to reverse the damage caused by the recession. If the March rate of job growth were maintained, holding all else equal, it still would take several years to replace the more than seven million jobs lost since December 2007.”

25.03.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Short Month Sees Solid Job Growth

Short Month Sees Solid Job Growth

CHAPEL HILL (March 25, 2011) – In February, North Carolina’s employers added 17,400 more payroll positions than they eliminated, according to data released today by the Employment Security Commission. This monthly gain was the single-largest one recorded since the state’s labor market bottomed out in late 2009. Nevertheless, joblessness remains a serious problem in North Carolina. Over the past year, total payroll employment in the state rose by just 0.8 percent—a pace that will not close the large jobs gap anytime soon.

“Solid job growth in February was a nice change from the unimpressive numbers recorded in recent months,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “February was the best month of job growth since the state’s labor market bottomed out in December 2009. While positive growth is good news, the pace of growth remains insufficient to close the jobs gap anytime soon.”

Last month, North Carolina employers added 17,400 more payroll positions than they cut. Net gains in the private sector (+20,400) were offset by net losses in the public sector (-3,000). Among private industries, professional and business services netted the most positions (+6,800), followed by construction (+4,500), and education and health services (+4,100). The gains were offset by drops in trade, transportation, and utilities (-1,600) and financial activities (-700).

Additionally, a revision to the January data found that the state gained 500 more payroll positions that first thought (+5,000 versus original estimate of +4,500). With that revision, North Carolina has lost, on net, 292,500 positions—seven percent of its payroll employment base—since December 2007.

“One solid jobs report does not a recovery make,” noted Quinterno. “The question is whether the February report was a one-off or the start of a trend. Yet even if the rate of job growth continues at the pace of the past year, the goal of a full recovery remains far in the distance.”

Between February 2010 and February 2011, North Carolina netted 30,500 jobs (0.8 percent). All of the growth (+41,700 positions) occurred in the private sector, while the public sector shed 11,200 positions. In terms of individual industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute and relative terms (+22,700, +4.8 percent). Construction shed the most jobs in absolute and relative terms (-6,400, -3.6 percent). In the public sector, net job loss resulted almost entirely from reductions at the state (-4,100, -2.1 percent) and local (-7,900, -1.8 percent) levels.

The household data for February, meanwhile, were mixed. Last month, the total number of employed individuals increased slightly (+0.1 percent), while the number of unemployed individuals dropped by 4,275 (-1 percent). Over the past year, the number of unemployed North Carolinians fell by 84,742 (-16.3 percent). Unfortunately, much of this decline was attributable to individuals exiting the labor force. Between February 2010 and February 2011, the size of the labor force contracted by 91,962 individuals (-2 percent).

The February unemployment rate of 9.7 percent was down from the January rate of 9.8 percent. It also was the lowest monthly rate recorded since January 2009, when 9.2 percent of the labor force was unemployed. Over the past year, the unemployment rate fell sharply, dropping to 9.7 percent from 11.4 percent.

“While welcome, the positive job growth recorded over the past year has done little to close the state’s job gap or reduce unemployment to acceptable levels,” observed Quinterno. “The contraction in the size of the labor force remains a real concern. Compared to a year ago, smaller shares of the working-age population are either participating in the labor force or have jobs.

“The positive job growth recorded in February should not obscure the fact that North Carolina’s labor market remains in critical condition,” added Quinterno. “At the current rate of job growth, it will take years to replace the positions lost during the recession, to say nothing of accommodating the state’s growing working-age population. North Carolina still has a long way to go.”

18.03.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Few Changes Along The Local Jobs Front

Few Changes Along The Local Jobs Front

CHAPEL HILL (March 18, 2011) – Eighty-six of North Carolina’s 100 counties and 12 of the state’s 14 metro areas had labor forces in January 2011 that were smaller in size than they were one year before. Moreover, 77 counties and 8 metros posted double-digit unemployment rates in January. These findings come from estimates released today by the Employment Security Commission.

“January delivered little in the way of meaningful job growth in communities across North Carolina,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Job growth was meager, and the lack of growth continued to push unemployed individuals out of the labor market.”

Since the economy fell into recession in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 7.4 percent of its payroll employment base (-310,400 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to the current level of 10.5 percent. In January, the state gained 4,500 more payroll jobs than it lost.

Every region of the state experienced weak labor markets in January. Unemployment rates were at or above 10 percent in 77 counties; over the past year, however, there was a drop in the number of counties posting double-digit unemployment rates. Individual county rates in January ranged from 6.5 percent in Orange County to 19.4 percent in Graham County.

“Labor markets in non-metropolitan communities remain especially weak,” adds Quinterno. “Last month, 11.7 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.9 percent of the metro labor force. More alarmingly, the non-metropolitan labor force continued to shrink. Since December 2007, the non-metropolitan labor force has declined by 4.4 percent or 59,016 individuals. Many of those missing persons are effectively jobless.”

Last month, unemployment rates rose in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (13.1 percent), followed by the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area (12.8 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (7.6 percent).

Because of the lack of seasonal adjustments, monthly fluctuations in local unemployment rates must be interpreted cautiously. This caveat is particularly important in January, when a variety of seasonal factors normally manifest themselves. The proper comparison, then, is not between December 2010 and January 2011, but between January 2010 and January 2011.

Compared to January 2010, unemployment rates were lower in 86 counties and every metro area. Yet compared to a year ago, 86 counties and 12 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Winston-Salem posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-2.5 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-2.3 percent) and Goldsboro (-2 percent). Asheville posted the largest gain (+1.1 percent).

“While seven of North Carolina’s metro areas—led by Raleigh-Cary, Burlington, and Asheville—recorded modest levels of job growth in 2010, overall growth levels were insufficient to drive down joblessness,” cautions Quinterno. “Much of the recent improvement in unemployment is due to the exiting of workers from the labor market. The contraction in the size of the labor force remains a worrisome development, and jobless individuals are at grave risk of being left behind.”

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 5.9 percent since December 2007. The combined January unemployment rate in the three major metros equaled 9.7 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (8.3 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10.7 percent) and Charlotte (11.5 percent).

“Since December 2009, the month when then the state’s labor market bottomed out, most local job markets have experienced few meaningful improvements,” explains Quinterno. “Compounding the problem is the fact that annual data revisions have revealed the state’s job gap to be even larger than first thought. The current rate of job growth simple is insufficient to solve the problem of widespread joblessness.”