News Releases

18.06.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Less Than Meets The Eye

Less Than Meets The Eye

CHAPEL HILL (June 18, 2010) – The May employment report for North Carolina paints a picture of a fragile labor market. Last month, the state added 12,900 more payroll positions than it lost. The gains were concentrated in the public sector due to significant hiring by the federal government, most likely for temporary census positions.

“The May employment report is less impressive than it appears,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Private-sector payrolls contracted, and net job growth overwhelmingly was driven by public-sector hiring, primarily by the federal government.”

In May, employers added 12,900 more positions than they eliminated. The public sector netted 16,100 positions with federal hiring accounting for 80 percent of the total. Total private-sector payrolls, in contrast, fell by 3,200 positions. Among private industries, manufacturing shed the most positions (-2,900) followed by leisure and hospitality services (-2,700), Those losses were offset by gains in professional and business services (+1,600) and trade, transportation, and utilities (+1,300). And a revision to the April data raised net payroll growth for that month from 7,500 to 10,200.

“So far in 2010, payroll employment in North Carolina has grown by 31,300 positions, which is only slightly greater than the number needed to keep pace with population growth,” notes Quinterno. “The private sector has netted just 14,100 positions, and many of the public-sector jobs that have been gained likely are temporary ones. This is not the road to a swift and sustainable recovery.”

Despite a recent moderation in job losses, conditions stagnated over the past year. Compared to May 2009, the state had 3,300 fewer jobs (-0.1 percent). In terms of individual industries, construction (-22,600) and manufacturing (-21,600) lost the greatest number of positions over the past year, while construction declined the most in relative terms (-11.6 percent). Government employment grew the most in actual (+39,900 positions) and relative (+5.6 percent) terms. Since December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 254,000 positions or 6.1 percent of its payroll employment base.

Stabilizing labor market conditions are reflected in May’s household data. Last month, the labor force contracted by 0.1 percent as 6,027 individuals stopped working or seeking work. The number of employed individuals rose, and the number of unemployed individuals declined. The unemployment rate therefore dipped from 10.8 percent to 10.3 percent. Since the start of the recession, the number of unemployed Tar Heels has grown by 123.3 percent, and the unemployment rate has jumped from 4.7 percent to 10.3 percent.

“The second half of 2010 could be quite difficult for North Carolinians seeking work,” cautions Quinterno. “Private-sector job growth is anemic, and much of the recent growth has resulted from such government actions as temporary census hiring, housing tax credits, emergency unemployment insurance benefits, and recovery act funding. Many of these policy supports are ending, and it is unclear what will take their place in supporting overall demand.”

04.06.2010 News Releases Comments Off on At Least The Census Bureau Is Hiring

At Least The Census Bureau Is Hiring

CHAPEL HILL (June 4, 2010) – The national employment report for May is an unimpressive one. Last month, employers added 431,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated. Almost all of the gain, however, was attributable to the hiring of temporary workers by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The May payroll report is much less impressive than it first seems,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Almost all job growth was due to temporary hiring by the U.S. Census Bureau. When census hiring is excluded, the nation netted just 20,000 positions in May.”

In May, the nation’s employers added 431,000 more payroll positions than they cut. Gains occurred primarily in the public sector due to the hiring of 411,000 temporary census workers by the federal government. The rest of the economy netted just 20,000 positions. The largest private-sector gains occurred in manufacturing (+29,000) and in professional and business services (+22,000), primarily in the temporary help services sub-industry. Construction payrolls fell by 35,000 positions, which erased many of the industry’s recent gains. All other major industry groups recorded little or no change.

“The May employment report is an uninspiring one that highlights just how dependent the economy is upon policy supports and government action,” noted Quinterno. “If not for temporary census hiring, the numbers would be much worse.”

Weak job prospects also are reflected in the May household survey. Last month, 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 (9.8 percent vs. 8.1 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.4 percent) than among White ones (8.8 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 26.4 percent.

Furthermore, newly available data show that 7.8 percent of all veterans were unemployed in May; the rate among veterans who had served since September 2001 was 10.6 percent.

“In developments inconsistent with recovery, 322,000 individuals left the labor force in May, and the share of the adult population engaged in economically productive activities fell,” added Quinterno. “Compared to a year ago, the labor force is smaller, fewer people are employed, and more people are unemployed.”

Jobs remained hard to find in May. Last month, 46 percent of all unemployed workers had been jobless for at least six months. Many other individuals simply stopped looking, and counting those individuals and those working part-time on an involuntary basis brings the underemployment rate to 16.6 percent.

“Strip away census hiring, and the May employment report is weak,” observed Quinterno. “The economy remains dependent on public supports, and it is unclear if it will be able to stand on its own as those supports fall away over the summer.”

28.05.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Local Labor Markets Move Sideways in April

Local Labor Markets Move Sideways in April

CHAPEL HILL (May 28, 2010) –  Local labor market conditions across North Carolina remained weak in April, according to preliminary data released today by the Employment Security Commission. In April, 63 counties posted double-digit unemployment rates, and 23 counties recorded unemployment rates of at least 12 percent.

“Weak conditions remained the norm in April,” says John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While conditions in many places have stabilized during 2010, few meaningful improvements have occurred. Most job markets are moving sideways, and there is little to celebrate.”

Since the recession’s onset in December 2007, North Carolina has shed 6.5 percent of its payroll employment base (-270,000 positions) and has seen its unadjusted unemployment rate climb from 4.7 percent to 10 percent.

Every part of the state experienced weak labor markets in April. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 63 counties, and in 23 counties, at least 12 percent of the labor force was jobless and actively seeking work. County unemployment rates ranged from 5.8 percent in Currituck County to 15.8 percent in Scotland County.

“The recession continues to batter the state’s non-metropolitan communities,” adds Quinterno. “Last month, 11.1 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 9.6 percent of the metro labor force. Since December 2007, the number of employed individuals in non-metro areas has fallen by 6.7 percent while the number of unemployed individuals has grown by 98 percent.”

Last month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas, and every metro but Rocky Mount netted jobs. Nevertheless, five metros posted double-digit unemployment rates. The Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area had the highest unemployment rate (13.3 percent) followed by Rocky Mount (13 percent). The lowest metro unemployment rate was 7.2 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 a yearly one.”

Compared to April 2009, unemployment rates were the same or higher in 22 counties and 3 metro areas. And compared to a year ago, 68 counties and 6 metro areas had smaller labor forces. Among metros, Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir posted the largest decline in the size of its labor force (-3.3 percent), followed by Burlington (-2.1 percent). Jacksonville posted the largest gain (+6.8 percent).

“Despite some stabilization in labor market conditions, the long-term employment picture remains the same,” cautions Quinterno. “The sustained job growth needed to absorb displaced individuals and new workers simply isn’t occurring.”

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 in 2010 has been sluggish. Collectively, employment in these three major metro regions has fallen by 3.9 percent since the start of the recession. The overall April unemployment rate in the major metros equaled 9.5 percent. Of the three areas, the Research Triangle had the lowest April unemployment rate (8.1 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (10.5 percent) and Charlotte (11.6 percent).

“One piece of good news contained in the April 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 $8.9 billion in statewide economic activity.”

21.05.2010 News Releases Comments Off on Hold Off On The Celebration

Hold Off On The Celebration

CHAPEL HILL (May 21, 2010) – The April employment report released today by the Employment Security Commission points to a state labor market in fragile condition. Job growth is insufficient to accommodate all those who wish to work; unemployment remains elevated; and uncertainty clouds future prospects.

Last month, North Carolina employers added 7,500 more positions than they eliminated. The public sector generated 80 percent of those jobs with federal hiring – mainly for temporary census positions – accounting for 51.6 percent of net public-sector payroll growth. Since December 2007, North Carolina has lost, on net, 270,000 positions or 6.5 percent of its payroll employment base.

“Few positive changes have occurred within North Carolina’s labor market so far in 2010,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Perhaps the best that can be said is that conditions have held steady. However, job growth remains insufficient to absorb new workers, let alone those displaced earlier in the recession.”

In April, North Carolina employers added 7,500 more positions than they cut. The public sector gained, on net, 6,000 positions while the private sector netted 1,500 positions. Among private industries, professional and business services gained the most positions (+6,300), followed by education and health services (+1,900). These gains were offset by losses in trade, transportation, and utilities (-3,100); leisure and hospitality services (-3,100); and construction (-1,800). Additionally, an upward revision to the March data raised net payroll growth for that month from 3,300 to 6,000.

“So far in 2010, North Carolina employers have added 15,700 more positions than they have eliminated,” notes Quinterno. “The average monthly gain of 3,925 is insufficient to meet the natural growth of the labor force, to say nothing of generating jobs for those displaced earlier in the recession. We are not on the road to a swift recovery.”

Despite a recent moderation in job losses, conditions deteriorated over the past year. Compared to April 2009, the state had 33,600 fewer jobs (-0.9 percent). In terms of individual industries, manufacturing (-26,100) and construction (-25,600) lost the greatest number of positions over the past year, while construction also declined the most in relative terms (-13 percent). Government employment grew the most in numerical (+20,400 positions) and relative (+2.9 percent) terms.

Stabilizing labor market conditions are reflected in April’s household data. Last month, the labor force expanded by 0.1 percent as 6,220 additional people sought work. The number of employed individuals rose, and the number of unemployed individuals declined. The unemployment rate therefore dipped from 11.1 percent to 10.8 percent. Nevertheless, since the start of the recession, the number of unemployed Tar Heels has grown by 131.3 percent, and the unemployment rate has jumped from 4.7 percent to 10.8 percent.

“The next few months could be quite difficult for North Carolinians seeking work,” cautions Quinterno. “Job growth is weak, and much of the recent growth has resulted from such government actions as temporary census hiring, housing tax credits, emergency unemployment insurance payments, and recovery act funding. Many of these supports are phasing out, and it is unclear if enough private-sector demand exists to take their place.”

Warned Quinterno, “Conditions could start deteriorating again.”

07.05.2010 News Releases Comments Off on National Job Market Improves in April

National Job Market Improves in April

CHAPEL HILL (May 7, 2010) – The national employment report for April points to an improving labor market. Last month, employers added 290,000 more payroll jobs than they eliminated with gains occurring across a broad range of industries. Stabilizing conditions also drew many jobless individuals back into the labor force in attempts to find work.

“The payroll growth that occurred in April is good news, and overall conditions have improved throughout 2010,” said John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The problem is that growth still is not occurring at a pace needed to reverse the severe job losses that occurred during the recession. The employment landscape remains a difficult one to navigate.”

In April, the nation’s employers added 290,000 more payroll positions than they eliminated. Gains occurred in both the public (+59,000) and private sectors (+231,000), as well as in most major industry groups. The largest gains occurred in professional and business services (+80,000), government (+59,000), leisure and hospitality services (+45,000), and manufacturing (+44,000). Losses occurred in the trade/transportation/utilities (-3,000) and information (-3,000) sectors.

“Nearly one-third of the payroll positions added in April were temporary ones connected to the private sector or the Census Bureau,” noted Quinterno. “When those positions end, the individuals holding those jobs likely will find themselves jobless again.”

The job growth experienced in April encouraged individuals who had stopped looking for work to resume their searches, a development that pushed up the unemployment rate. In April, 15.3 million Americans – 9.9 percent of the labor force –  were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10.1 percent vs. 8.2 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (16.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.5 percent) than among White ones (9.0 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 25.4 percent.

Furthermore, newly available data show that 9.1 percent of all veterans were unemployed in April; the rate among veterans who had served since September 2001 was 13.1 percent.

“Improved labor market conditions led 805,000 individuals to enter the labor force last month, and one-quarter of unemployed individuals said they were re-entrants to the labor market,” added Quinterno. “Nevertheless, jobs remain difficult to find. In April, 45.9 percent of all unemployed workers had been jobless for at least six months. Many other individuals simply stopped looking, and counting those individuals and those working part-time on an involuntary basis brings the underemployment rate to 17.1 percent.”

“The April employment report contains much positive news, but the bottom line is that conditions remain weak,” observed Quinterno. “Given the magnitude of the recession, improvements are not occurring at the levels needed to reverse past job losses anytime soon. We don’t just need positive growth, we need faster growth. Absent that, the recovery will unfold slowly.”