News Releases

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.”

03.12.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Not Much To See Here

Not Much To See Here

CHAPEL HILL (December 3, 2010) – Despite expectations to the contrary, the national employment situation deteriorated in November. Last month, employers added just 39,000 more positions than they eliminated, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent.

“The November employment contained almost no positive news,” 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 slightly due to some private-sector hiring, the gain was far short of the level needed to keep abreast of workforce growth, let alone bring down joblessness.”

In November, the nation’s employers added 39,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred primarily in the private sector (+50,000), while government payrolls fell by 11,000 positions due primarily to cuts at the local level. Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for August and September were revised upwards; with the revisions, the economy gained 148,000 jobs over those two months rather than the 110,000 positions previously reported.

Private-sector gains in November occurred in professional and businesses services (+53,000, primarily in the temporary help services sub-industry), education and health services (+30,000), and leisure and hospitality (+11,000). Private-sector losses occurred in manufacturing (-13,000), trade, transportation, and warehousing (-13,000); financial activities (-9,000); and construction (-5,000). All other private-industry groups experienced little or no change in November.

“The November employment report is evidence that the recovery is bypassing the job market,” noted Quinterno. “The current pace of growth will not bring down joblessness anytime soon.”

Weak conditions were reflected in the November household survey. Last month, 15.1 million Americans (9.8 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10 percent vs. 8.4 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16 percent) and Hispanic workers (13.2 percent) than among White ones (8.9 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 24.6 percent. With the exception of teenagers, unemployment rates for every major demographic group were higher in November than in October.

Furthermore, newly available data show that 8.6 percent of all veterans were unemployed in November; the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 10 percent.

“There remains a tremendous amount of idle labor in the American economy,” added Quinterno. “Compared to a year ago, a smaller share of the civilian population is participating in the labor force. The proportion of the population that is underemployed also has remained consistently at or near the November level of 17 percent.”

Jobs remained difficult to find in November. Last month, 41.9 percent of unemployed workers had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 33.8 weeks. Compared to a year ago, there were more people marginally attached to the labor force (2.5 million, up from 2.3 million).

“The November employment report should serve as a wake-up call for policymakers,” observed Quinterno. “The pace of economic recovery is too sluggish to reverse the problem of joblessness. Without more aggressive policy action, cyclical job losses are apt to crystallize into permanent ones. Millions of Americans are at grave risk of being pushed permanently out of the job market.”

30.11.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on North Carolina’s Disappearing Labor Force

North Carolina’s Disappearing Labor Force

CHAPEL HILL (November 30, 2010) – Local labor markets across North Carolina recorded few meaningful improvements in October, according to preliminary data released today by the Employment Security Commission. Last month, 37 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates. And compared to a year ago, 78 counties had smaller labor forces.

“North Carolina’s local labor markets made little progress in October,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Although unemployment rates across the state continued to fall, the declines were due to an exodus of workers from the job market. The trend is a troubling one.”

Since the onset of the recession in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 6.4 percent of its payroll employment base (-267,800 positions) and has watched its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 9.1 percent. The state recorded no net job growth in October.

Every broad region of the state experienced weak labor markets in October. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 37 counties; over the past year, however, there has been a notable reduction in the number of counties with double-digit unemployment rates. Individual county rates ranged from 4.9 percent in Currituck County to 14.7 percent in Scotland County.

“Labor markets in non-metropolitan communities remain weak,” adds Quinterno. “Last month, 9.9 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 8.8 percent of the metro labor force. More alarmingly, the non-metropolitan labor force continued to shrink. Between October 2009 and October 2010, the non-metropolitan labor force contracted by 1.7 percent or 22,520 individuals. Many of those missing persons are effectively jobless.”

Last month, unemployment rates fell in 13 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12.1 percent), followed by the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area (11.7 percent). Durham-Chapel Hill had the lowest rate at 6.6 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 October 2009, unemployment rates were the same or lower in 98 counties and every metro area. Yet compared to a year ago, 78 counties and 11 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-5.5 percent), followed by Rocky Mount (-3.5 percent). Jacksonville posted the largest gain (+5.7 percent).

“Many recent drops 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 last two recessions, the 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 4.3 percent since the start of the recession. The overall October unemployment rate in the major metros equaled 8.7 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (7.4 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (9.5 percent) and Charlotte (10.5 percent).

“In the 13 months since the state’s labor market hit bottom, local job markets have recorded few improvements, apart from some temporary gains caused by public policy actions,” explains Quinterno. “The removal of policy supports – such as the imminent expiration of emergency unemployment insurance – has revealed a private sector unable to generate jobs at a pace needed to accommodate all those who wish to work. Thousands of North Carolinians have responded by leaving the job market entirely.”

19.11.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Not What A Recovery Looks Like

Not What A Recovery Looks Like

CHAPEL HILL (November 19, 2010) – North Carolina recorded zero net job growth in October, according to data released today by the Employment Security Commission. At the same time, the state’s unemployment rate fell slightly, dipping to 9.6 percent. Unfortunately, this drop was attributable primarily to a decline in the size of the state’s labor force.

“There is little in the October employment report to celebrate,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The lack of any net job growth is a worrisome development. By this point in a normal business cycle, job growth should be occurring at a brisk pace.”

Last month, employers added no more positions than they cut. A net loss of 2,100 public-sector positions was balanced by a net gain of 2,100 private-sector positions. Among private industries, education and health services added the most positions (+4,000), followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,900), and professional and business services (+800). Those gains largely were offset by losses in leisure and hospitality services (-4,000), financial activities (-1,300), and information (-300).

Additionally, a revision to the September data lowered the net job growth first reported for the month. Instead of gaining 10,100 positions in September, North Carolina actually netted 9,800 positions. With that revision, North Carolina has shed, on net, 267,800 positions – 6.4 percent of its payroll employment base – since December 2007.

“North Carolina’s labor market is showing few signs of recovery,” notes Quinterno. “The gains recorded in early 2010 have disappeared. Since May, payroll employment in North Carolina has fallen by 27,100 positions. The economy clearly is proving unable to generate jobs without public policy supports like those provided through the federal recovery act.”

Since October 2009, North Carolina has gained 9,100 jobs (+0.2 percent). In terms of individual industries, professional and business services grew the most in absolute and relative terms (+18,500, +4  percent), while construction shed the most jobs in absolute and relative terms (-7,700, -4.3 percent).

The household data for October also were troubling. Last month, the labor force contracted by 0.3 percent as 12,152 individuals stopped working or seeking work. The number of employed individuals fell, as did the number of unemployed individuals. Owing largely to the contraction of the labor force, the unemployment rate fell from 9.7 percent to 9.6 percent. The reduction in the size of the labor force is disturbing and suggests that joblessness is much more widespread than reflected in official measures.

“Some 102,000 North Carolinians have left the labor force since May,” 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. By the same point in time following the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions, the labor force was growing again.”

“The October employment report illustrates just how weak the labor market is,” explains Quinterno. “In the 13 months since the state’s labor market hit bottom, few meaningful improvements have occurred. Public policy supports provided a bounce in late 2009 and early 2010, but the economy is proving unable to create jobs without policy assistance. Little in the October report suggests that a labor market recovery is underway in North Carolina.”

05.11.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on Few Surprises In The October Jobs Report

Few Surprises In The October Jobs Report

CHAPEL HILL (November 5, 2010) – The national employment picture changed little in October. Last month, employers added 151,000 more payroll positions than they cut. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, held steady at 9.6 percent due in part to the exiting of 254,000 people from the labor force.

“The October employment report offered little evidence that a robust recovery is underway,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While payroll employment rose due to private-sector hiring, positions simply are not being added at the pace needed to bring down joblessness anytime soon.”

In October, the nation’s employers added 151,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred primarily in the private sector (+159,000), while government payrolls fell by 8,000 positions owing to job reductions among local governments. Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for August and September were revised upwards; with the revisions, the economy lost 42,000 jobs over those two months rather than the 152,000 positions previously reported.

Private-sector gains in October occurred in professional and businesses services (+46,000, primarily in the temporary help services sub-industry), education and health services (+53,000), retail trade (+28,000), and other services (+25,000). Private-sector losses occurred in manufacturing (-7,000), and leisure and hospitality services (-5,000). All other private-industry groups experienced little or no change in October.

“The October employment is a reminder that job growth is not occurring at the level needed to accommodate all of the Americans who wish to work,” noted Quinterno. “The current pace of growth will not put a dent in the problem of joblessness anytime soon.”

Weak conditions were reflected in the October household survey. Last month, 14.8 million Americans (9.6 percent of the labor force) were jobless and seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (9.7 percent vs. 8.1 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.7 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.6 percent) than among White ones (8.8 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 27.1 percent. Unemployment rates for most of these categories changed only slightly from the previous month.

Furthermore, newly available data show that 8.3 percent of all veterans were unemployed in October; the rate among veterans who had served since September 2001 was 10.6 percent.

“There remains a tremendous amount of idle labor in the American economy,” added Quinterno. “Compared to a year ago, a smaller share of the civilian population is participating in the labor force. The proportion of the population that is underemployed also has risen. In October, the underemployment rate equaled 17 percent, down slightly from 17.1 percent in September.”

Jobs remained difficult to find in October. Last month, 41.8 percent of unemployed workers had been jobless for at least six months with the average spell of unemployment lasting for 33.9 weeks. The number of people marginally attached to the labor force rose in October, while the number working part time for economic reasons fell.

“Two aspects of the October employment report merit particular attention,” observed Quinterno. “First, the pace of job growth remains too tepid to reverse the problem of widespread joblessness. Second, weak job creation is leading people to abandon the labor market. In fact, over 200,000 Americans have left the labor force just since August. This is an alarming development with serious consequences for households, businesses, and communities, to say nothing of the larger project of economic recovery.”