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24.01.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on NC Job Market Ends 2010 With A Whimper

NC Job Market Ends 2010 With A Whimper

CHAPEL HILL (January 24, 2011) – North Carolina ended 2010 essentially with no more payroll jobs than it had at the beginning of the year. According to data released today by the Employment Security Commission, North Carolina gained 2,300 payroll positions in December, but that gain did little to close the state’s large jobs gap. Over the course of 2010, net payroll employment grew by just 0.3 percent.

“2010 delivered very little in the way of job growth for North Carolina,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “In several respects, labor market conditions actually worsened during the year.”

Last month, North Carolina employers added 2,300 more payroll positions than they cut. Net gains occurred in both the private (+1,700) and public (+600) sectors. Among private industries, professional and business services netted the most positions (+3,600), followed by manufacturing (+1,400) and trade, transportation and utilities (+1,300). The gains were offset by declines in construction (-3,900) and leisure and hospitality services (-2,300).

Additionally, a revision to the November data decreased the net job loss first reported for that month. Instead of losing 12,500 positions, North Carolina actually shed 5,800 positions. With that revision, North Carolina has lost, on net, 272,800 positions – 6.5 percent of its payroll employment base – since December 2007.

“While positive, the job gains posted in December and the upward revision to the November report have not altered the fundamental jobs picture in North Carolina,” notes Quinterno. “Meaningful job growth simply is not occurring, and in many ways, conditions actually deteriorated during the second half of the year.”

Since bottoming out in September 2009, North Carolina’s labor market has recorded little growth. Total payroll employment is just 0.6 percent greater than it was at the recession’s lowest point.

Between December 2009 and December 2010, North Carolina gained 10,400 jobs (0.3 percent). Almost all of the growth (10,000 positions) occurred in the private sector. In terms of individual industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute and relative terms (+20,800, +4.5 percent). Construction shed the most jobs in absolute and relative terms (-11,500, -6.5 percent). In the public sector, net job loss resulted entirely from reductions among local governments.

The household data for December, meanwhile, were mixed. Last month, the labor force grew by 0.1 percent as 2,264 more individuals found work or actively looked for work. On the other hand, the total number of employed individuals fell, and the number of unemployed individuals rose to 439,167. These dynamics pushed the statewide unemployment rate to 9.8 percent. Furthermore, a variety of other data points suggest that joblessness and the attendant hardships are much more widespread than reflected in the official unemployment measure.

“Perhaps the most worrisome trend observed in 2010 was the decline in the size of the labor force,” observes Quinterno. “Compared to a year ago, there are 52,626 fewer people working or actively seeking work. The size of the state’s labor force now is at the lowest level recorded since July 2006.”

“The December employment offers no evidence that a recovery in the job market is underway in North Carolina,’ added Quinterno. “2010 was in effect a lost year for North Carolina’s job market and the people who depend on it for their livelihoods.”

07.01.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Modest Progress on The Jobs Front

Modest Progress on The Jobs Front

CHAPEL HILL (January 7, 2010) – The national employment situation improved somewhat in December, as employers added 103,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated. While that gain contributed to a fall in unemployment, a troubling drop in the size of the labor force accounted for almost half of the decline.

“The December employment report was a somewhat positive one,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While total payroll employment rose due to some private-sector hiring in a few industries, the gain was far short of the level needed at this point in the recovery.”

In December, the nation’s employers added 103,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred exclusively in the private sector (+113,000), while government payrolls fell by 10,000 positions due chiefly to cuts at the local level (-20,000). Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for October and November were revised upwards; with the revisions, the economy gained 281,000 jobs over those two months rather than the 211,000 positions previously reported.

Private-sector gains in December occurred almost entirely in leisure and hospitality services (+47,000, mainly in the food services sub-industry) and education and health services (+44,000). Private-sector losses occurred in construction (-16,000) with all other private-industry groups experiencing few or no changes in December.

“The December employment report offered little evidence that a robust jobs recovery is taking hold across the county,” noted Quinterno. “The current pace of growth, while positive, will not produce the jobs needed to accommodate all those Americans who want work.”

Weak conditions were reflected in the December household survey. Last month, 14.5 million Americans (9.4 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. While the number of unemployed Americans and the unemployed rate fell last month ( -556,000 positions and -0.4 percentage points, respectively), the share of the population participating in the labor force (64.3 percent) reached the lowest level recorded since the early 1980s. In December, some 260,000 Americans simply left the labor market.

Last month, proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (9.4 percent vs. 8.1 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.8 percent) and Hispanic workers (13.0 percent) than among White ones (8.5 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 25.4 percent. With the exception of teenagers, unemployment rates for every major demographic group were lower in December than in November.

Furthermore, 8.3 percent of all veterans were unemployed in December; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 11.7 percent.

“The job market ended 2010 on a mixed note,” added Quinterno. “While net job growth was positive and was boosted by upward revisions to previous months’ estimates, reductions in public sector payrolls are weighing on the job market. Especially worrying is the fact that a smaller share of the civilian population is participating in the labor force, as many Americans unable to find positions have abandoned the job market altogether. That was an important reason why the unemployment rate fell in December.”

Jobs remained difficult to find in December. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 16.7 percent. Among unemployed workers, 44.3 percent had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 34.2 weeks.

“The December employment report offers much proof that the labor market is not healing itself,” observed Quinterno. “The modest pace of growth is too sluggish to reverse the problem of joblessness, especially long-term joblessness. Unless more attention is paid to the problem and more aggressive action taken, millions of Americans run the risk of being pushed permanently out of the job market.”

04.01.2011 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Hardly a Festive Time for Local Labor Markets

Hardly a Festive Time for Local Labor Markets

CHAPEL HILL (January 4, 2011) – The sizes of labor forces in communities across North Carolina continued to shrink in November, based on preliminary data released today by the Employment Security Commission. Compared to one year ago, labor forces were smaller in 81 of the state’s 100 counties and 9 of its 14 metro areas. Furthermore, 56 counties and 5 metros posted double-digit unemployment rates in November.

“Local labor markets across North Carolina continued to struggle in November,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The ongoing contraction in the sizes of local labor forces is an alarming trend that indicates that the labor market is not yet on the road to recovery.”

Since the onset of the recession in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 6.8 percent of its payroll employment base (-281,800 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 9.9 percent. In November, the state as a whole shed 12,500 more payroll positions than it added.

Every broad region of the state experienced weak labor markets in November. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 56 counties; over the past year, however, there has been a reduction in the number of counties with double-digit unemployment rates. Individual county rates ranged from 5.9 percent in Orange County to 18.6 percent in Graham County.

“Labor markets in non-metropolitan communities remain especially weak,” adds Quinterno. “Last month, 10.8 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.5 percent of the metro labor force. More alarmingly, the non-metropolitan labor force continued to shrink. Between November 2009 and November 2010, the non-metropolitan labor force fell by 4.7 percent or 63,840 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 (12.8 percent), followed by the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area (12.6 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate (7.1 percent).

Because of the lack of seasonal adjustments, monthly fluctuations in local unemployment rates must be interpreted cautiously. A better comparison is an annual one.

Compared to November 2009, unemployment rates were lower in 80 counties and every metro area. Yet compared to a year ago, 56 counties and 5 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-2.7 percent), followed by Greensboro-High Point and Wilmington (tied at -1.1 percent). Asheville and Durham-Chapel Hill posted the largest gain (tied at +1.1 percent).

“Many recent improvements in local unemployment rates have been driven by workers abandoning the job market, not by job growth or improvements in underlying conditions” cautions Quinterno. “Labor force contraction is a sign of an unhealthy economy and shows just how weak the current recovery is. By the same point in time following the previous two recessions, the state’s labor force was growing.”

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 5.2 percent since December 2007. The overall November unemployment rate in the major metros equaled 9.3 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (7.9 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10.2 percent) and Charlotte (11.2 percent).

“In the 14 months since the state’s labor market hit bottom, local job markets have recorded few improvements, apart from some short-lived gains resulting from public policy actions,” explains Quinterno. “The private sector simply is not generating jobs at a pace either expected at this point in a recovery or needed to accommodate all those who wish to work. As a result, some 64,000 North Carolinians have responded over the past year by leaving the labor force.”

For additional information on the performance of North Carolina’s local labor markets in 2010, click here to read South by North Strategies’ year-end analysis.

30.12.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on SBN Releases 2010 Labor Market Review

SBN Releases 2010 Labor Market Review

CHAPEL HILL (December 30, 2010) – North Carolina’s job market ended 2010 little changed from the start of the year. Between December 2009 and November 2010, the most recent month for which data are available, payroll employment in the state rose by just 1,400 positions. While the statewide unemployment rate fell over the year, much of the decline was due to a contraction in the size of the state’s labor force. And, little evidence suggests that a recovery will take hold in early 2011.

These findings come from an end-of-year review of the North Carolina job market released today by South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. Available on Policy Points, the firm’s blog, the review summarizes the year’s major developments in the labor market.

“Although North Carolina gained some jobs during 2010, the growth was insufficient to reverse the serious damage inflicted during the recession,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd. “Much of the growth came during the first half of the year thanks to various public policy supports. When those supports dropped away, the economy not only proved unable to generate jobs on its own, but it also gave back many of the gains realized earlier in the year.”

The review notes that the early 2011 should be another difficult period for the state’s labor market. Many of the policy supports that helped during 2010 have ended and little appears to have taken their place in sustaining economic demand. And the employment and spending reductions that will result from probable public budget cuts only will exacerbate the downward pressures.

The review is particularly worried about the ongoing contraction in the size of the state’s labor force and the problem of long-term unemployment.

“Much of the recent decline in North Carolina’s unemployment rate is due to a decrease in the size of the labor force,” notes Quinterno.”The labor force shrank by 1.6 percent over 2010 as frustrated workers abandoned their job searches. This is not a sign of a healthy or recovering job market.”

Long-term unemployment also remains a serious concern in Quinterno’s judgment. “If the worsening pattern of long-term unemployment is not reversed soon, many individuals will become effectively unemployable due to skills deterioration, stiff competition, and negative stereotyping on the part of employers,” warns Quinterno. “At that point, a serious cyclical employment problem will become an intractable structural one.”

The full review is available at http://www.sbnstrategies.com/?p=5300

17.12.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on NC’s Labor Market Still Lags

NC’s Labor Market Still Lags

CHAPEL HILL (December 17, 2010) – November’s loss of 12,500 payroll positions was the second-largest monthly drop recorded so far in 2010 in North Carolina. That same month, according to data released today by the Employment Security Commission, the state’s unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent. Additionally, the departure of 3,330 North Carolinians from the labor force reduced the size of the state’s labor force to a level last seen in July 2006.

“North Carolina’s labor market still has not turned a corner,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “At a point in the business cycle when prospects should be improving, they instead have worsened.”

Last month, North Carolina employers cut 12,500 more payroll positions than they added. Net losses occurred in both the private sector (-11,500 position) and public sector (-1,000). Among private industries, education and health services netted the most positions (+4,800), followed by financial activities (+1,100), information (+300), and other services (+200). The gains were more than offset by declines in trade, transportation and utilities (-5,200), leisure and hospitality services (-5,200), professional and business services (-3,600), construction (-2,300), and manufacturing (-1,600).

Additionally, a revision to the October data reduced the net job growth first reported for the month. Instead of gaining zero positions in October, North Carolina lost 1,500 positions. With that revision, North Carolina has shed, on net, 284,300 positions – 6.8 percent of its payroll employment base – since December 2007.

“November was the second-worst month for job losses so far in 2010,” notes Quinterno. “Not only were there fewer payroll jobs in November than at any point in 2010, but total employment in North Carolina has fallen back roughly to the level recorded in December 2009. All of the job growth made earlier in 2010 has been erased. Total payroll employment now is just 0.4 percent greater than the level posted in September 2009, the month when the labor market bottomed out. ”

Since November 2009, North Carolina has lost 6,100 jobs (-0.2 percent). In terms of individual industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute terms (+14,400), information the most in relative terms (+3.6 percent). Construction shed the most jobs in absolute and relative terms (-9,400, -5.2 percent).

The household data for November also were troubling. Last month, the labor force contracted by 0.1 percent as 3,330 individuals stopped working or seeking work. The number of employed individuals fell while the number of unemployed individuals rose to 433,240. The unemployment rate also ticked up to 9.7 percent from 9.6 percent. Moreover, the continued reduction in the size of the labor force is disturbing and suggests that joblessness is much more widespread than captured in official measures.

“Some 107,000 North Carolinians have left the labor force since April,” observes Quinterno. “That contraction is responsible for much of the recent decline in the unemployment rate and is a sign of an extremely unhealthy labor market. The size of the state’s labor force now is at the lowest level recorded since July 2006.”

“The November employment report offers no evidence that the state’s labor market has turned a corner,” added Quinterno. “Much of the growth experienced early in 2010 was due to temporary public policy supports, and the private sector has not stepped forward to fill the void in demand left by the expiration of those supports.”