News Releases

26.04.2010 News Releases, Policy Points Comments Off on South by North Strategies in the News

South by North Strategies in the News

South by North Strategies’ analysis of local employment conditions in March was featured in a number of media outlets.

23.04.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Local Job Markets Remain Weak

Local Job Markets Remain Weak

CHAPEL HILL (April 23, 2010) –  Local labor market conditions across North Carolina remained weak in March, based on preliminary data released today by the Employment Security Commission. In March 75 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates, and 43 counties recorded unemployment rates of at least 12 percent.

“Weak labor markets remained the norm in March,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Labor market conditions have stabilized since last summer, and some job creation has occurred, but jobs are not being generated at levels needed to cut down joblessness.”

Since the recession’s onset in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 6.7 percent of its payroll employment base (-280,200 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 10.9 percent.

Every part of the state experienced weak labor markets. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 75 counties, and in 43 counties, at least 12 percent of the labor force was jobless and actively seeking work. County unemployment rates ranged from 6.4 percent in Orange County to 17.2 percent in Graham County.

“The labor-market recession continues to batter the state’s non-metropolitan communities,” adds Quinterno. “Last month,12 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 10.4 percent of the metro labor force. Since December 2007, the number of employed individuals in non-metro areas has fallen by 6.8 percent.”

Last month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas, and every metro netted jobs. Nevertheless, eight metros posted double-digit unemployment rates. The Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area had the highest unemployment rate (14.5 percent) followed by Rocky Mount (13.5 percent). The lowest metro unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in Durham-Chapel Hill.

“Because of the lack of seasonal adjustments, monthly fluctuations in local unemployment rates must be interpreted cautiously, especially since unemployment normally rises at the start of the year before dipping in the spring,” cautions Quinterno. “A better comparison is to contrast yearly data.”

Compared to March 2009, unemployment rates were the same or higher in 44 counties and 9 metro areas. And compared to a year ago, 44 counties and 2 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-2.4 percent), followed by Burlington (-0.9 percent). Jacksonville posted the largest gain (+6.3 percent).

“Despite some stabilization in labor market conditions, the long-term employment picture remains the same,” cautions Quinterno. “The sustained job growth needed to bring down unemployment simply isn’t there yet.”

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 Piedmont Triad. Yet job growth so far in 2010 has been sluggish. Collectively, employment in these three major metro regions has fallen by 4.7 percent since the start of the recession. The overall March unemployment rate in the major metros equaled 10.3 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest February unemployment rate (8.7 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (11.3 percent) and Charlotte (12.5 percent).

“One piece of good news contained in the March report is evidence of the powerful role that unemployment insurance has played in blunting the recession,” observes Quinterno. “Over the last 12 months, the Employment Security Commission paid out $5.4 billion in regular state payments, emergency federal benefits, and additional federal compensation. These payments not only helped households coping with a job loss, but they also generated an estimated $8.8 billion in statewide economic activity.”

16.04.2010 News Releases Comments Off on NC Labor Market Little Changed in March

NC Labor Market Little Changed in March

CHAPEL HILL (April 16, 2010) – The March employment report released today by the Employment Security Commission points to few changes in the state’s labor market. Job growth remains insufficient to accommodate all those who wish to work, and unemployment remains at an elevated level.

Last month, North Carolina employers added 3,300 more positions than they eliminated; private-sector and public-sector employers contributed roughly equally to that gain. Since December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 280,200 positions or 6.7 percent of its payroll employment base.

“Labor market conditions have stabilized since last September,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “2010 has witnessed some slight job creation, consistency in the unemployment rate, and a decline in new unemployment claims, but job growth is insufficient to absorb new workers or those displaced earlier in the recession.”

In March, North Carolina employers added 3,300 more positions than they cut. The public sector gained, on net, 1,600 positions (federal hiring accounted for 38% of the total), and the private sector added, on net, 1,700 positions. Among private industries, leisure and hospitality services gained the most positions (+2,200), followed by manufacturing (+2,100). Professional services posted the largest loss (-2,400), followed by trade, transportation, and utilities (-2,100). Additionally, a downward revision to the February data raised net job losses for that month from 2,800 to 3,800.

“So far in 2010, private-sector employers have added 12,600 more positions than they have eliminated, and employment appears to have leveled off in such hard-hit industries as manufacturing and construction,” adds Quinterno. “Unfortunately, private-sector job growth is not occurring at the pace needed to bring about a swift recovery.”

Despite the recent moderation in job losses, conditions deteriorated over the last year. Compared to March 2009, the state had 61,600 fewer jobs (-1.6 percent). In terms of individual industries, manufacturing (-30,200) and construction (-27,700) lost the greatest number of positions over the past year, while construction also declined the most in relative terms (-13.7 percent). Government employment grew the most in numerical (+17,400 positions) and relative (+2.4 percent) terms.

Moderating labor market conditions are reflected in March’s household data. Last month, the labor force expanded by 0.3 percent as 15,300 additional people sought work. The number of employed individuals rose, and the number of unemployed individuals declined. Consequently, the unemployment rate dipped from 11.2 percent to 11.1 percent. Nevertheless, the past year saw the number of unemployed Tar Heels grow by 7.3 percent and the unemployment rate rise to 11.1 percent from 10.3 percent.

“A jobless recovery clearly is taking shape in North Carolina,” observes Quinterno. “While job losses have abated and some private-sector payroll growth has occurred, the growth is insufficient to accommodate the sizable share of the workforce that is jobless anytime soon.”

07.04.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Off to A Slow Start

Off to A Slow Start

CHAPEL HILL (April 7, 2010) –  Labor market conditions across North Carolina have changed little in 2010, according to preliminary data released today by the Employment Security Commission. In February, 87 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates, and 58 counties recorded unemployment rates of at least 12 percent. Local labor forces also contracted in 40 counties.

“North Carolina’s local labor markets have performed sluggishly in 2010,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While job losses have abated, positions are not being generated at levels needed to absorb unemployed North Carolinians or re-absorb individuals returning to the job market.”

Since the recession’s onset in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 6.8 percent of its payroll employment base (-282,500 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 11.8 percent.

Every part of the state experienced weak labor markets in February. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 87 counties, and in 58 counties, at least 12 percent of the labor force was jobless and actively seeking work. County unemployment rates ranged from 6.9 percent in Orange County to 19.4 percent in Graham County.

“While the recession has battered communities across the state, non-metropolitan areas have been quite hard hit,” adds Quinterno. “Last month,13.1 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 11.3 percent of the metro labor force. The number of unemployed individuals in non-metro areas has more than doubled since December 2007.”

Unemployment also rose last month in 6 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Nine metros posted double-digit unemployment rates. The Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area had the highest unemployment rate (15.8 percent) followed by Rocky Mount (14.7 percent). The lowest metro unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in Durham-Chapel Hill.

“Because of the lack of seasonal adjustments, monthly fluctuations in local unemployment rates must be interpreted cautiously, especially since a number of unique factors were at work in February,” warns Quinterno. “A better comparison is to contrast yearly data.”

Compared to February 2009, unemployment rates were the same or higher in 80 counties and 13 metro areas. And compared to a year ago, 72 counties and 8 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-3.9 percent), followed by Burlington (-1.7 percent). Jacksonville posted the largest gain (+5.4 percent).

“Some analysts may say that the economy has turned a corner based on some recent positive macroeconomic numbers, but local job markets are showing little evidence of improvement,” cautions Quinterno. “On the contrary, the report suggests that more difficulties are in store for 2010, especially as federal recovery spending fades away.”

In the long-term, any meaningful labor market recovery in North Carolina will be fueled by growth in the state’s three major metro regions: Charlotte, the Research Triangle, and Piedmont Triad. Yet little growth has been evident in these communities so far in 2010. Collectively, employment in the state’s three major metro regions has fallen by 6.2 percent since the start of the recession. The overall February unemployment rate in the major metros equaled 11.1 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest February unemployment rate (9.4 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (12.3 percent) and Charlotte (13.4 percent).

“One piece of good news contained in the February report is evidence of the powerful role that unemployment insurance has played in blunting the recession,” observes Quinterno. “Over the last 12 months, the Employment Security Commission paid out $5.2 billion in regular state payments, emergency federal benefits, and additional federal compensation. These payments not only helped households coping with a job loss, but they also generated an estimated $8.6 billion in statewide economic activity. Unfortunately, Congress has allowed the various federal emergency programs to expire, and this will cause difficulties going forward.”

02.04.2010 News Releases Comments Off on National Job Market Makes A Kind of Progress

National Job Market Makes A Kind of Progress

CHAPEL HILL (April 2, 2010) – The national employment report for March points to a labor market that is adding some jobs but few permanent positions. Last month, employers added 162,000 more payroll jobs than they eliminated. Many of these positions, however, were temporary ones, either in the private sector or with the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Payroll employment growth is good news, but the March report needs to be interpreted cautiously,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “A variety of peculiar factors were at work last month. The bottom line is that employment growth is not occurring at a level needed to absorb new workers or re-absorb jobless ones.”

In March, the nation’s employers added 162,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated. Gains were concentrated in professional and business services, primarily temporary help services (+40,000), health care (+27,000), and government (+39,000). Losses occurred within the financial activities (-21,000) and information (-12,000) industries.

“Nearly half of the payroll positions added in March were temporary ones connected to the private sector or the Census Bureau” noted Quinterno. “When these positions end, the individuals holding those jobs likely will find themselves jobless and competing for a relatively small number of openings.”

The job growth experienced in March was too modest to reduce the country’s supply of idle labor, as reflected in the household data released today. In March, 15 million Americans – 9.7 percent of the labor force –  were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10 percent vs. 8 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.6 percent) than among White ones (8.7 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 26.1 percent.

Furthermore, newly available data show that 9.8 percent of all veterans were unemployed in March; the rate among veterans who had served since Sep. 2001 was 14.7 percent.

“In March, perceived improvements in labor market conditions led 400,000 individuals to resume their job searches,” added Quinterno. “Nevertheless, jobs – particularly permanent ones – are difficult to find. Last month, 44 percent of all unemployed workers had been jobless for at least six months. Because the number of job seekers far exceeds the number of openings, many more individuals have given up on finding work. Counting those individuals and those working part-time on an involuntary basis brings the underemployment rate to 16.9 percent.”

“While labor market conditions have stabilized in recent months, unemployment has settled at an extremely high level,” observed Quinterno. “Fewer people are losing jobs compared to a year ago, but those who are jobless are finding themselves out of work for increasingly long periods. Such high levels of unemployment and long-term unemployment are limiting the speed and strength of the recovery.”