News Releases

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.”

05.02.2010 News Releases Comments Off on New Year, Same Jobs Story

New Year, Same Jobs Story

CHAPEL HILL (February 5, 2010) – The national employment report for January points to a sickly labor market. Last month, employers eliminated 20,000 more payroll jobs than they added. Additionally, official revisions to 2009 estimates found that the economy lost 930,000 more jobs than first reported. Total job losses since Dec. 2007 now number 8.4 million.

“The national labor market started 2010 just like it ended 2009: going nowhere,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Labor market conditions have stabilized in recent months, but few meaningful improvements are occurring. The job market continues to drift along.”

In January, the nation’s employers eliminated 20,000 more payroll positions than they created. Although the November payroll data were revised upward (to +64,000 positions from +4,000), downward revisions to December data (to -150,000 from -85,000) more than offset the gains. And annual revisions to the 2009 estimates found that 930,000 more positions (seasonally adjusted) were lost than initially reported.

January job losses were concentrated in the construction (-75,000), transportation/warehousing (-19,000), and financial (-16,000) sectors. Losses primarily were offset by gains in professional and business services (+44,000), retail trade (+42,100), and education/health care (+16,000). Much of the increase in professional services employment was driven by the temporary help services sub-industry (+52,000).

“The best that can be said about the January employment report is that job losses are not occurring at the dizzying pace seen in early 2009,” added Quinterno. “Yet two years of recession have forced many Americans to the economy’s sidelines.”

The extent of idle labor is reflected in the household data released today. In January,  14.8 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. 7.9 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 26.4 percent.

Furthermore, newly available data show that 9.6 percent of all veterans were unemployed in January; the rate among veterans who had served since Sep. 2001 was 12.6 percent. Also, 15.2 percent of Americans with disabilities were unemployed last month

“In January, just 58.4 percent of America’s working-age population was employed,” noted Quinterno. “Individuals looking for work are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain positions. Last month, 41 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 16.5 percent.”

Today’s national data suggest that another weak employment report is in store for North Carolina. Since the recession’s start, North Carolina employers have eliminated, on net, 248,000 positions, and the statewide unemployment rate has climbed to 11.2 percent.

“In recent months, job losses and unemployment have settled at extremely high levels,” observed Quinterno. “Given that the bulk of the nation’s economic activity hinges upon consumer expenditures, high levels of joblessness only serve as a drag on growth. Alarmingly, the one major positive contributor to growth in recent quarters – federal recovery spending – likely has achieved its maximum effect on growth rates and will begin phasing out in 2010.”

“Public-sector spending currently is the main force driving the economy, and it appears that private-sector conditions are too weak, by themselves, to support much growth,” warned Quinterno. “This suggests that sluggish growth and high levels of joblessness will remain a serious problem well into 2010.”

29.01.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Two Lousy Years For Local Labor Markets

Two Lousy Years For Local Labor Markets

CHAPEL HILL (January 29, 2010) –  Labor markets across North Carolina performed poorly in December, according topreliminary data released today by the Employment Security Commission. Last month, 73 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates, and 45 counties recorded unemployment rates of at least 12 percent. Local labor forces also contracted in 97 counties.

“Two years into the recession, job markets across North Carolina continue to deteriorate,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Labor forces are shrinking, employment is falling, and unemployment is rising. There is little evidence that a turnaround is underway.”

Since the recession’s onset in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 5.9 six percent of its payroll employment base (-246,000 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 10.9 percent. And in December, the statewide unemployment rate reached a modern high.

Every part of the state experienced weak labor markets in December. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 73 counties, and in 45 counties, at least 12 percent of the labor force was jobless and actively seeking work. County unemployment rates ranged from 6.2 percent in Orange County to 17.6 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,12.2 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 10.4 percent of the metro labor force. Non-metro unemployment has more than doubled over the last two years.”

Unemployment also rose last month in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Seven metros posted double-digit unemployment rates. The Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area had the highest unemployment rate (14.8 percent) followed by Rocky Mount (13.9 percent). The lowest metro unemployment rate was 7.7 percent in Durham-Chapel Hill.

“Because of the lack of seasonal adjustments, monthly fluctuations in local unemployment rates must be interpreted cautiously, especially at this time of year,” warns Quinterno. “A better comparison is to contrast year-to-year data.”

Compared to December 2008, unemployment rates were the same or higher in every county and metro area. And compared to a year ago, 65 counties and 9 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Jacksonville posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-1.7 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-1.5 percent) and Goldsboro (-1.3 percent).

“Some analysts may say that the economy has turned a corner based on the seemingly strong fourth quarter growth figures reported in today’s advance estimate of the nation’s gross domestic product,” cautions Quinterno. “These numbers are unusually high due to a blip in inventory adjustments, and a dispassionate assessment offers little evidence of an imminent recovery in the job market. On the contrary, the report suggests that more difficulties are in store for 2010, especially as federal recovery spending fades out.”

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 was evident in these communities during the last quarter of 2009. Collectively, employment in the state’s three major metro regions fell by 1.3 percent over that period, while the labor force contracted by 1.1 percent. The overall December unemployment rate in the major metros equaled 10.2 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest December unemployment rate (8.5 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (11.3 percent) and Charlotte (12.8 percent).

“One piece of good news contained in the December report is evidence of the powerful role that unemployment insurance played in blunting the recession in 2009,” observes Quinterno. “Last year, the Employment Security Commission paid out $4.8 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 $7.9 billion in statewide economic activity.”

22.01.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Two Years of Job Market Deterioration

Two Years of Job Market Deterioration

CHAPEL HILL (January 22, 2010) – The December employment report released today by the Employment Security Commission contains few signs of a recovery in the job market. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, North Carolina has lost six percent of its payroll employment base and has seen its unemployment rate climb to a modern high of 11.2 percent.

Last month, North Carolina employers eliminated 2,400 more positions than they created; private-sector employers accounted for all of the losses. Although the state’s labor market has fluctuated between periods of slight payroll employment gains and losses over the past five months, overall employment conditions are bleak.

“The past two years have been atrocious ones for working North Carolinians,” says John Quinterno, a principal a South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Although jobs losses appear to have bottomed out in July, no real improvements have occurred since. The job market is stuck at the bottom of the recession.”

In December, North Carolina employers shed 2,400 more positions than they added. The public sector gained, on net, 800 positions, and the private sector cut, on net, 3,200 positions. Among private industries, leisure and hospitality services eliminated the most positions (-2,600), followed by manufacturing (-900), and trade, transportation and warehousing (-800). Professional services posted the largest numerical gain (+1,900), followed by government (+800), and information (+600). Furthermore, an upward revision to the November report reduced total net job losses for that month from 5,600 to 2,400.

“Although job market conditions appear to have stabilized, private-sector hiring remains scarce,” adds Quinterno. “In 2009, private employers cut 141,600 more positions than they added. More alarmingly, monthly net private-sector payroll growth has been positive just three times since the start of the recession. The private sector is not in a position to ignite or sustain a labor market rally.”

Despite the recent moderation in job losses, conditions have deteriorated markedly since last year. Compared to December 2008, the state had 124,200 fewer jobs (-3.1 percent). In terms of individual industries, manufacturing (-53,500) and construction (-33,700) lost the greatest number of positions over the past year, while construction also declined the most in relative terms (-15.1 percent). Government employment grew the most in absolute (+17,400 positions) and relative (+2.4 percent) terms.

“The job losses that have occurred during this recession are greater than those experienced during past ones,” notes Quinterno. “Severe job losses have pushed unemployment to the highest levels recorded since the mid-1970s.”

The extent of joblessness is reflected in December’s household data. Last month, the labor force contracted due to the decision of frustrated workers to abandon their job searches. Had those individuals remained in the labor force, the December unemployment rate would have been even higher than the official one. Over the past year, the number of unemployed North Carolinians grew by 36.7 percent and the unemployment rate rose to 11.2 percent from 8.1 percent. Additionally, over the year, the share of the working-age population participating in the labor market fell to 62.8 percent.

“North Carolina’s labor market is stuck in recessionary doldrums,” observes Quinterno. “A sizable share of the working-age population is jobless, yet little demand for labor appears to exist, especially in the private sector. Until that changes, conditions are unlikely to improve.”

08.01.2010 News Releases Comments Off on National Job Losses Continue

National Job Losses Continue

CHAPEL HILL (January 8, 2010) – New national employment data for December show that the economy shed 85,000 more positions than it created. Since the recession’s onset in December 2007, over 7 million positions have been eliminated with net job losses occurring in 22 of the last 23 months. Over the past two years, the unemployment rate has risen to 10 percent, and the number of unemployed persons nearly has doubled.

“December brought no good news for working Americans,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Job losses occurred at a level that is severe by any objective standard, and revisions to previous months’ data showed the total job gap to be larger than first estimated.”

In December, the nation’s employers eliminated 85,000 more payroll positions than they added. Although the November payroll data were revised upward (to +4,000 positions from -11,000), downward revisions to the October data more than offset the gains. Additional downward revisions are expected when annual data adjustments are released in February.

December job losses were concentrated in the construction (-53,000), trade/transportation/utilities (-37,000), and manufacturing (-27,000) sectors. These and other losses were offset primarily by gains in professional and business services (+50,000) and education/health care (+35,000). Much of the increase in professional services employment was driven by the temporary help services sub-industry (+46,500).

“There is little positive news in the December employment report,” notes Quinterno. “Although job losses are no longer occurring at the dizzying pace experienced in early 2009, less bed is not the same as getting better. Many Americans simply have been forced to the economy’s sidelines.”

The extent of idle labor is reflected in the household data released today. In December,  15.3 million Americans – 10 percent of the labor force –  were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10.2 percent vs. 8.2 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16.2 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.9 percent) than among White ones (9 percent).

“In December, just 58 percent of America’s working-age population was employed,” adds Quinterno. “Individuals looking for work are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain positions, and last month, 40 percent of all unemployed workers had been out of work for at least six months. Because the number of job seekers far exceeds the number of job openings, many more individuals simply have given up on finding work. Counting those individuals would bring the underemployment rate to 17.3 percent.”

Today’s national data suggest that another weak employment report is in store for North Carolina. Since the recession’s start, North Carolina employers have eliminated, on net, 250,000 positions, and the statewide unemployment rate has climbed to 10.8 percent.

“In recent months, job losses and unemployment have settled at extremely high levels,” observes Quinterno. “Given that 70 percent of the nation’s economic output is dependent upon consumer expenditures, high levels of joblessness only serve as a drag on growth. Alarmingly, the one major positive contributor to growth in recent quarters – federal recovery spending – likely has achieved its maximum effect on growth rates and will begin phasing out in 2010.

“Because little private activity appears ready, willing, and able to replace public-sector spending and consumption as drivers of growth, high levels of jobless and sluggish growth look to continue well into the future,” cautions Quinterno.