News Releases

04.09.2009 News Releases Comments Off on Another Rough Month for US Workers

Another Rough Month for US Workers

CHAPEL HILL (September 4, 2009) – National employment numbers released today show that August was the 20th straight month in which the economy eliminated more jobs than it added. Another 216,000 jobs were lost, and the unemployment rate rose to 9.7 percent.

“By an objective measure, August was a rough month for working Americans,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Jobs continued to disappear, and individuals seeking work found it increasingly difficult to find positions.”

In August, employers across the nation eliminated 216,000 more payroll positions than they added. Also, revisions to the July data revealed that the economy lost 29,000 more positions than first reported (-276,000 positions versus -247,000).

August job losses were widespread with the greatest numerical declines occurring in construction (-65,000), manufacturing (-63,000), and financial activities (-28,000). Education and health service (+52,000) was the only industry to post a sizable increase.

“The pace of job losses has moderated in recent months, thanks in part to federal recovery spending,” notes Quinterno. “The easing is welcome, but the bottom line is that the job market still is deteriorating.”

That decline is reflected in the household data released this morning. In June, 9.7 percent of the labor force – 14.9 million Americans – were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (10.1 percent versus 7.6 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (15.1 percent) and Hispanic workers (13 percent) than among White ones (8.9 percent).

“Jobless individuals are finding it increasingly difficult to find new positions,” adds Quinterno. “Last month, one-third of all unemployed workers had been out of work for at least six months. Many more individuals either had given up on finding new positions or were working fewer hours than they needed or wanted.”

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, 258,000 positions, and the statewide unemployment rate has climbed to 11 percent.

“Based on the August data, a rapid rebound in the labor market appears unlikely,” observes Quinterno. “Employment difficulties remain widespread and are keeping demand in check. Unemployment likely will continue to rise into 2010.”
“Even when economic demand returns, firms are unlikely to hire new permanent employees until they first max out the overtime potential of existing workers, add back hours to employees on reduced schedules and exhaust temporary workforce solutions,” cautions Quinterno. “Robust job growth remains well over the horizon.”

Contact: John Quinterno, Principal, (919) 622-2392

28.08.2009 News Releases Comments Off on Same Song, Different Beat in NC

Same Song, Different Beat in NC

CHAPEL HILL (August 28, 2009) – Despite some small fluctuations in individual county unemployment rates, local labor markets across North Carolina remained extraordinarily weak in July. Last month, 69 counties posted double-digit rates of unemployment; of these, 39 had unemployment rates of at least 12 percent. These findings come from data released today by the Employment Security Commission.

“The basic employment story in communities across North Carolina remained unchanged in July,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While conditions are not deteriorating as sharply as they were earlier in the year, they are not improving either.”

July was the 10th consecutive month in which North Carolina employers eliminated more jobs than they created (-26,400). Since the start of the recession, North Carolina has lost, on net, 258,000 payroll jobs – an amount equivalent to over 6 percent of all the jobs that existed in December 2007. Furthermore, 11.1 percent of the labor force was unemployed (unadjusted rate) in July.

Last month, every part of the state faced weak labor markets. Unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in 69 counties, and in 39 counties, at least 12 percent of the labor force was jobless and actively seeking work. County unemployment rates ranged  from 5.5 percent in Currituck and Hyde counties to 17.1 percent in Scotland County.

All 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas also struggled in July. Last month, eight metros posted double-digit unemployment rates. The Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area had the highest unemployment rate (15.1 percent) followed by Rocky Mount (14.3 percent). The lowest metropolitan unemployment rate was 8.3 percent in Durham-Chapel Hill.

“For any meaningful statewide labor market recovery to occur, job growth will need to resume in North Carolina’s three major metropolitan areas,” notes Quinterno. “There was little evidence of this happening in July. Last month, unemployment rates stood at 13 percent in Charlotte, 11.6 percent in the Piedmont Triad, and 9.1 percent in the Research Triangle.”

Some observes may look to drops in county unemployment rates between June and July as a sign that conditions are improving, but this comparison is a misleading one. Monthly local unemployment rates are not adjusted for seasonal effects, which can be quite pronounced during the summer, especially in tourist communities. The more accurate comparison is to contrast local data from July 2009 and July 2008.

“Local unemployment rates soared between July 2008 and July 2009,” explains Quinterno. “Last month, 82 counties had unemployment rates that were at least 1.5 times greater than the ones recorded a year ago. The same dynamic occurred in 10 of the state’s 14 metropolitan areas.”

“The July employment report suggests that the pace of job loss in North Carolina has slowed, thanks in part to the federal recovery package, but the overall trajectory remains a downward one,” says Quinterno.

“Overall economic conditions remain quite weak, and unless the demand for goods and services increases, North Carolina communities will struggle with high levels of joblessness well into the future.”

Contact: John Quinterno, Principal, (919) 622-2392

21.08.2009 News Releases Comments Off on Job Loss Resumes Its Upward Climb in NC

Job Loss Resumes Its Upward Climb in NC

CHAPEL HILL (August 21, 2009) – After pausing briefly at the beginning of summer, job loss in North Carolina resumed its upward climb in July. Last month, employers eliminated 26,400 more positions than they created. Furthermore, downward revisions to the June payroll data erased the slight employment gain that initially had been reported for that month. July consequently marks the 10th consecutive month in which North Carolina recorded a net loss of jobs. These findings come from data released today by the Employment Security Commission.

“The pace of job loss has slowed in recent months, but the overall trajectory remains a downward one,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy issues. “An easing in the pace of job loss isn’t the same thing as a labor market recovery.”

In July, North Carolina employers shed 26,400 more jobs than they added. The overwhelming majority of those job losses occurred in the public sector (-21,300) with local governments responsible for most of those losses. Private-sector employers, meanwhile, recorded a net loss of 5,100 positions. While employment in most private industries declined or held steady, net hiring in professional and business services and leisure and hospitality services managed to offset many of the other losses.

“No meaningful labor market recovery will occur without private-sector hiring,” notes Quinterno. “Since last October, North Carolina’s private-sector employers have eliminated, on net, 194,400 positions. While the pace of private-sector job loss recently has moderated, little evidence points to a robust turnaround. Recent reductions in public-sector employment only will compound the problems tied to the reduction of private-sector opportunities.”

For additional perspective on private-sector employment, compare payroll figures from July 2009 to those from July 2008. Over the year, private employers eliminated, on net, 214,400 positions. With the exception of education and health services (+11,200), every major non-governmental industry contracted. The greatest numerical declines occurred in manufacturing (-77,400); construction (-47,600); and professional and business services (-40,700). Relative to payroll sizes, construction employment fell the most, down 19.8 percent.

Job losses have contributed to the sharp rise in North Carolina’s unemployment rate. In July, 496,867 individuals were unemployed. Over the year, the number of unemployed North Carolinians has nearly doubled while the unemployment rate has climbed to 11 percent.

“North Carolina’s high unemployment rate actually understates the extent of the employment problems facing North Carolinians,” adds Quinterno. “July was the third straight month in which the size of the labor force declined. This suggests that jobless individuals abandoned their employment searches, yet such individuals are not included in official unemployment count.”

“Little in the July employment report points to an imminent recovery,” cautions Quinterno. “High levels of joblessness likely will persist and will serve to restrain consumer spending. Unless demand for goods and services returns, private-sector employers are unlikely to begin adding positions in meaningful numbers.”

“While it appears that the worst job losses might be behind North Carolina, thanks in part to the federal recovery package, that does not mean that economic growth is just around the corner,” he adds. “A jobless recovery appears to be taking shape.”

Contact: John Quinterno, Principal, (919) 622-2392

07.08.2009 News Releases Comments Off on Less Bad Is Not The Same As Getting Better

Less Bad Is Not The Same As Getting Better

CHAPEL HILL (AUGUST 7, 2009) — National employment numbers released this morning show that the July was the 19th consecutive month in which the American economy eliminated more jobs than it created. The American economy shed another 247,000 jobs, and the monthly unemployment rate totaled 9.4 percent.

“Compared to recent months, the economy shed many fewer jobs in July,” says John Quinterno, a principal at South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy issues. “The easing in the pace of job loss is welcome news, but it doesn’t mean that the job market is getting better. By any objective measure, the July report is an alarming one.”

In July, employers across the nation eliminated 247,000 more payroll positions than they added. Job losses were widespread with the greatest numerical losses occurring in construction (-76,000), manufacturing (-52,000), and retail trade (-44,000). Education and health service (+17,000), leisure and hospitality (+9,000), and government (+7,000) all added more positions than they lost.

“Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost, on net, 6.7 million positions,” notes Quinterno. “Thanks in part to federal recovery spending, the pace of job loss has slowed, but meaningful employment growth has yet to occur.”

The declining availability of work has pushed up the national unemployment rate. In July, 9.4 percent of the labor force – 14.5 million Americans – were jobless and actively seeking work. Proportionally more adult male workers were unemployed than female ones (9.8 percent versus 7.5 percent). Similarly, unemployment rates were higher among Black (14.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (12.3 percent) than among White ones (8.6 percent).

“The overall unemployment rate and the rates among specific groups held steady in July,” explains Quinterno. “Nevertheless, the challenges of finding work or finding enough work remain serious. In July, one-third of unemployed workers had been jobless for at least 27 weeks. Significant numbers of employed workers also struggled to find enough hours of work.”

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, 223,000 positions, and the statewide unemployment rate has climbed to 11 percent.

“When viewed in light of other recent data, it appears that some of the economic pressures weighing down on the nation are easing,” observes Quinterno. “Yet a rapid rebound in the labor market appears unlikely. Economic demand remains weak, and even when demand returns, employers are unlikely to add permanent employees until they first add back hours to the schedules of current employees and exhaust temporary workforce solutions.”

“A long, jobless recover appears to be looming on the horizon,” warns Quinterno.

Contact: John Quinterno, Principal, 919-622-2392 (mobile)