News Releases

01.07.2014 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Unemployment Rates Drop Over The Year

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 1, 2014) – Between May 2013 and May 2014, unemployment rates fell in all 100 counties in North Carolina and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Yet over the same period, the size of the labor force decreased in in 73 counties and in 7 metro areas.

These findings come from new estimates released by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“Local unemployment rates fell across all of North Carolina over the past year, with the unadjusted statewide rate falling by 1.6 percentage points,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Many local labor markets now have some of the lowest rates of unemployment logged since late 2007, yet rates still remain elevated. In fact, 67 counties and 14 metro areas posted unemployment rates greater than those recorded six years ago.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 1.1 percent fewer payroll jobs (-45,700). In May, the state added 5,700 more jobs than it lost (+0.1 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,551 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 283,100 positions (+7.4 percent). At that rate, all else equal, it would take until early 2015 for the state to have as many payroll jobs as it did at the end of 2007.

Between April 2014 and May 2014, local unemployment rates increased in 92 of the state’s 100 counties, decreased in 7 counties, and held constant in 1 county. Individual county rates in May ranged from 4.6 percent in Currituck County to 12.7 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 3 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 63 counties posted rates between 6.6 and 9.9 percent. (Because seasonal fluctuations in the labor market are particularly pronounced in May, month-to-month changes provide limited insight into trends.)

“Non-metropolitan labor markets continue to struggle relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In May, 7.4 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 6.3 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 3.6 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 28.7 percent larger. Over that time, the size of the non-metro labor force has fallen by 1.8 percent.”

Between April and May, unemployment rates rose in all 14 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (9.8 percent), followed by Fayetteville (7.7 percent) and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (7.1 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (5.1 percent), followed by Durham-Chapel Hill (5.3 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (5.4 percent).

Compared to May 2013, unemployment rates in May 2014 were lower in all 100 counties and all 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes decreased in 73 counties and in 7 metros. In fact, the statewide labor force (seasonally adjusted) was 0.2 percent smaller (-8,307 individuals) in May 2014 than it was in May 2013.

Among metros, Rocky Mount’s labor force contracted at the greatest rate (-2.1 percent) over the course of the year, followed by Fayetteville (-1.7 percent) and Jacksonville and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-1.5 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 72.1 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.9 percent of the labor force residing in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte metros.

In the long term, improvements in overall labor market conditions depend on growth in the Charlotte, Research Triangle, and Piedmont Triad regions. Yet growth in these metros, although improved in recent months, remains subdued. Collectively, employment in the three metro regions has risen by 6.8 percent since December 2007, and the combined unemployment rate in May totaled 6.1 percent (compared to 5.4 percent in May 2008). Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest May unemployment rate (5.5 percent), followed by Charlotte (6.5 percent) and the Piedmont Triad (6.6 percent).

The local employment report for May also provided insights into the effects of the extensive changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance implemented over the summer. Last month, the number of regular unemployment insurance initial claims filed in North Carolina totaled 23,306, down from the 48,287 initial claims filed a year earlier (-51.7 percent).

Mecklenburg County was home to greatest number of regular initial claims (2,728), followed by Wake (1,981), Guilford (1,600), Forsyth (929), and Cumberland (817) counties.

In May 2014, North Carolinians received a (nominal) total of $36.5 million in regular state-funded and federal unemployment insurance compensation, down from the (nominal) $177.5 million received in May 2013. This sharp decline (-79.4 percent) is attributable to a mix of factors, such as drops in the number of insurance claims resulting from economic improvements and legal changes that restricted eligibility for insurance compensation.

Additionally, the state’s decision to exit the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program reduced the amount of federal unemployment insurance compensation flowing into the state in May. Between May 2013 and May 2014, the amount of federal unemployment insurance benefits paid to North Carolinians fell by 98.8 percent, dropping to a (nominal) total of $1.1 million from a (nominal) total of $89.1 million. (Note that the US Congress allowed the EUC program to expire at the start of 2014.)

“Despite recent improvements in some important labor market indicators, labor market conditions in communities across North Carolina still have not returned to their pre-recessionary states,” said Quinterno. “The May data showed little deviation from the basic pattern that has characterized the state’s labor market for the past four years:  a sluggish recovery that is not generating enough job opportunities, rapidly enough for working North Carolinians.”

20.06.2014 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Progress At The Margins In May Jobs Report

CHAPEL HILL, NC (June 20, 2014) – In May, employers in North Carolina added 5,700 more payroll positions than they cut (+0.1 percent), due entirely to growth in the private sector. The monthly household survey, meanwhile, recorded an uptick in unemployment, with the statewide unemployment rate rising to 6.4 percent, which was equal to the rate logged this past February. Nevertheless, North Carolina still has 1.1 percent fewer payroll jobs, 31.6 more unemployed residents, and an unemployment rate that is 1.4 percentage points higher than it did almost 6.5 years ago.

These findings come from new data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“The May employment report contained signs of marginal progress, even though overall labor market conditions in North Carolina remained far from healthy,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Last month, North Carolina netted relatively few payroll jobs, yet the labor force expanded, which led to a rise in unemployment and the unemployment rate. This increase must be interpreted cautiously, however, given the seasonal factors often at work at this time of year.”

Between April 2014 and May 2014, North Carolina employers added 5,700 more jobs than they cut (+0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 6,100 positions (+0.2 percent), but public-sector payrolls shed, on net, 400 jobs (-0.1 percent). Within private industry, the leisure and hospitality services sector netted the most jobs (+7,400, with 63.5 percent of the increase originating in the accommodation and food services subsector), followed by trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector (+2,300, with 56.5 percent of the gain originating in the wholesale trade subsector). Meanwhile, the professional and business services sector shed 3,400 more jobs than it added (all of the losses occurred in the administrative and waste management subsector), followed by the manufacturing sector (-2,200, with losses split equally between the durable and non-durable goods subsectors).

A revision to the April 2014 payroll data found that the state gained 2,700 more jobs that month than first estimated (+18,000 versus +15,300). With the revision, North Carolina has, on net, 45,700 fewer payroll positions (-1.1 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 5,550 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 283,100 positions (+7.4 percent). At that rate, holding all else equal, it would take until early 2015 for the state to have as many jobs as it did at the end of 2007.

“While positive, the pace of payroll growth in North Carolina has not accelerated radically over the past year,” explained Quinterno. “Between May 2013 and May 2014, the total number of payroll jobs in North Carolina grew by 1.9 percent, a rate similar to those seen in prior years. Between May 2012 and May 2013, the total of number payroll jobs in North Carolina rose by 1.6 percent, while between May 2011 and May 2012, the rate of growth was 1.8 percent. The bottom line is that North Carolina has experienced the same basic rate of job growth for several years in a row.”

The household data recorded in May contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. Last month, the statewide unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage points to 6.4 percent, which was same rate logged in February of this year. An increase in the size of the labor force contributed to that increase. After accounting for that growth, 10,187 more North Carolinians (+0.2 percent) had jobs in May than in April, and 8,795 more persons were unemployed (+3 percent). These data, however, should be interpreted cautiously due to the seasonal dynamics often at work at the start of summer.

While the changes in household data recorded between April and May seemed positive, the data for changes over the past year were more mixed. Between May 2013 and May 2014, the number of unemployed North Carolinians fell by 90,299 persons (-23.1 percent), but 9.2 percent of the decline was attributable to people who left the labor force entirely. If those 8,307 persons were added back to the labor force and considered unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate in May would have equaled 6.6 percent. Even if 50 percent of those individuals were added back to the labor force and considered unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate would have equaled 6.5 percent.

Year-over-year declines in the statewide labor force participation rate provide additional evidence of a labor market that is performing poorly. In May 2014, the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market equaled 61.3 percent, which was up from the 61.1 percent figure logged in April but lower than the 62.1 percent figure recorded a year ago. Even though the labor force participation rose in May for the second straight month, it remains close to the lowest monthly figure recorded at any point since January 1976.

Although another important measure of labor utilization, the employment-to-population ratio, rose over the year, the current share of working-age North Carolinians with a job (57.4 percent) was just 1.1 percentage points above the 38-year low of 56.3 percent posted in summer 2011.

The May labor market report provided additional insight into the effects of the extensive changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance implemented last summer. Between April and May, the number of claimants of regular state-funded insurance fell by 5.6 percent, dropping to 42,382 from 44,892. Compared to a year earlier, 48,476 fewer individuals received regular state-funded insurance in May (-53.4 percent).

Also in May, the state paid a (nominal) total of $35.4 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, an amount 60 percent lower than the (nominal) total of $88.4 million paid in May 2013.

“Despite some recent progress around the margins of the state’s labor market, conditions remain far from healthy. Look beyond the important-yet-limited measure of the unemployment rate, and one will see a labor market that is netting jobs at the same sluggish pace that has characterized the past few years. North Carolina simply still is struggling with the consequences of the last recession”

06.06.2014 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

US Labor Market Drifts Through May

CHAPEL HILL, NC (June 6, 2014) – In May, the national labor market added 217,000 more jobs than it lost due almost entirely to gains in the private sector. The net job gain, however, did not translate into a reduction in the national unemployment rate, which held steady at 6.3 percent. The unchanged unemployment rate was attributable in large part to a sharp drop in the labor force participation rate that occurred in April and that was not reversed in May.

“May was the 44th-straight month in which the United States experienced net job growth,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the year, the economy has netted an average of 198,000 jobs per month, but that pace of growth is insufficient to replace all of the jobs lost since 2007 and to accommodate subsequent population growth.”

In May, the nation’s employers added 217,000 more payroll jobs than they cut. Virtually all of the gain originated in the private sector (+216,000), while public employers added 1,000 more positions than they cut. Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the education and health services sector (+63,000, with 53.3 percent of the gain occurring in the health care subsector), followed by the professional business services sector (+55,000, with 50.7 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), the leisure and hospitality services sector (+39,000, with 88.2 percent of the gain originating in the accommodation and food service sector), and the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+39,000, with 32.1 percent of the gain occurring in the retail trade subsector). Payroll levels in the other major industry groups rose slightly or essentially held steady.

Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for March and April underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy netted 485,000 jobs over those two months, not the 491,000 positions previously reported. With those changes, the average pace of monthly job growth in the United States recorded over the past year dipped to 198,000 from 199,000.

“While the United States has experienced steady job growth for the past 3.5 years, the pace of growth has been modest relative to the severity of the job losses caused by the last recession,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth is insufficient to close the nation’s jobs gap anytime soon. And the overall pace of job growth appears to be inconsistent with the weak macroeconomic conditions that marked 2014’s first quarter.”

Data from the household survey offered some positive news about the state of the United States’ labor market. In May, the number of Americans who reported having jobs rose by 145,000 (+0.1 percent); put differently, slightly more people reported having jobs in May than in April. At the same time, the overall size of the labor force rose by 192,000 persons (+0.1 percent) between April and May. Yet in April, the share of working-age Americans participating in the labor force fell sharply, with the rate remaining unchanged in May. Similarly, the share of working-age Americans with a job has not changed since March.

In May, 9.8 million Americans were unemployed (6.3 percent), while 7.3 million individuals worked part time despite preferring full-time positions. Another 697,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about their job prospects that they had stopped searching for work altogether. Those persons were part of a larger population of 2.1 million Americans who were marginally attached to the labor force.

Compared to a year ago, 1.9 million more Americans were working in May, and 1.9 million fewer persons were unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working-age population with a job (58.9 percent) remained at a depressed level, while the share of the population that was participating in the labor force actually decreased over the year, falling to 62.8 percent from 63.4 percent.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (5.9 percent versus 5.7 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (11.5 percent) and Hispanic workers (7.7 percent) than among white ones (5.4 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 19.2 percent.

Additionally, 5 percent of all veterans were unemployed in May, and the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 5.3 percent. At the same time, 12.7 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained comparatively hard to find in May. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 12.2 percent, down from the 13.8 percent rate logged a year ago. Among unemployed workers, 34.6 percent had been jobless for at least six months, as opposed to 37.4 percent a year earlier, and the average spell of unemployment equaled 34.5 weeks, down from 36.9 weeks in May 2013.

In May, the leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 51.1 percent of unemployed persons. Another 29.1 percent of unemployed persons were re-entrants to the labor market, while 10.8 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.9 percent of the total.

“The May employment report painted a portrait of a national job market that is neither improving nor deteriorating,” observed Quinterno. “The payroll survey yielded results in line with those of recent months, and the household survey showed a labor force participation rate that remains at a depressed level. While the economy is netting jobs it is not adding enough jobs, rapidly enough to provide employment opportunities to all those who want and need work. The United States’ jobs crisis consequently remains far from over.”

16.05.2014 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

No Surprises In April Jobs Report For NC

CHAPEL HILL, NC (May 16, 2014) – In April, employers in North Carolina added 15,300 more payroll positions than they cut (+0.4 percent), due entirely to growth in the private sector. The monthly household survey, meanwhile, recorded a drop in unemployment, with the statewide unemployment rate falling to 6.2 percent, which was the lowest monthly rate logged since the middle of 2008. Nevertheless, North Carolina still has fewer payroll jobs, more unemployed residents, and a higher unemployment rate than it did some 6.25 years ago.

These findings come from new data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

“The April employment report is another entry in the series of mixed reports recorded over the last few months,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “In April, North Carolina experienced a rmodest gain in the total number of payroll jobs in the state for the second month in a row. Yet compared to year earlier, a smaller share of the state’s working-age population was participating in the labor force.”

Between March 2014 and April 2014, North Carolina employers added 15,300 more jobs than they cut (+0.4 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 16,800 positions (+0.5 percent), but public-sector payrolls shed, on net, 1,500 jobs (-0.2 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+7,600, with 86.8 percent of the increase originating in the administrative and waste management subsector), followed by the leisure and hospitality sector (+5,600 jobs, with all of the increase originating in the accommodation and food service subsector) and the trade, transportation, warehousing, and utilities sector (+2,200, with almost all of the gain originating in the retail trade subsector). Meanwhile, the construction sector shed the most payroll jobs (-2,500), followed by the education and health services sector (-1,400).

A revision to the March 2014 payroll data found that the state gained 1,700 fewer jobs that month than first estimated (+17,700 versus +19,400). With the revision, North Carolina has, on net, 54,100 fewer payroll positions (-1.3 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 5,494 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 274,700 positions (+7.2 percent). At that rate, holding all else equal, it would take until February 2015 for the state to have as many jobs as it did at the end of 2007.

“While positive, the pace of payroll growth in North Carolina has not quickened over the past year,” explained Quinterno. “Between April 2013 and April 2014, the total number of payroll jobs in North Carolina grew by 1.4 percent, a rate similar to those seen in prior years. Between April 2012 and April 2013, the total of number payroll jobs in North Carolina rose by 1.7 percent, while between April 2011 and April 2012, the rate of growth also was 1.7 percent. From April 2010 to April 2011, the rate of growth was 1.4 percent. No matter how one cuts the data, North Carolina has experienced the same basic slow rate of job growth for the last four years.”

The household data recorded in April contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. Last month, the statewide unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage points to 6.2 percent, which was the lowest monthly rate logged since mid-2008. Additionally, 14,104 more North Carolinians had jobs in April (+0.3 percent) than in March, and 4,193 fewer persons were unemployed (-1.4 percent). And over the month, the size of the state’s labor force essentially held steady at 4.7 million.

While the changes in household data recorded between March and April seemed positive, the data for changes over the past year were less so. Between April 2013 and April 2014, the number of unemployed North Carolinians fell by 102,377 (-26 percent) persons, but 32.2 percent of the decline was attributable to people who left the labor force entirely. If those 33,005 persons were added back to the labor force and considered unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate in April would have equaled 6.9 percent. Even if 50 percent of those individuals were added back to the labor force and considered unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate would have equaled 6.6 percent.

Year-over-year declines in the statewide labor force participation rate provide additional evidence of a labor market that is not growing rapidly enough to accommodate all those who want and need work. In April 2014, the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market equaled 61.1 percent, down from 62.2 percent in April 2013. Even though the labor force participation rose in April for the first time since late 2011, it remains close to the lowest monthly figure recorded at any point since January 1976.

Although another important measure of labor utilization, the employment-to-population ratio, rose over the year, the current share of working-age North Carolinians with a job (57.3 percent) was just 1 percentage point above the 38-year low of 56.3 percent posted in the summer of 2011.

The April labor market report provided additional insight into the effects of the extensive changes to the state’s system of unemployment insurance implemented over the summer. Between March and April, the number of claimants of regular state-funded insurance fell by 14.8 percent, dropping to 44,892 from 52,666. Compared to a year earlier, 52,750 fewer individuals received regular state-funded insurance in April (-53.8 percent).

Also in April, the state paid a (nominal) total of $38.5 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, an amount 61.2 percent lower than the (nominal) total of $99.2 million paid in April 2013.

“Despite recent declines in the statewide unemployment rate, labor market conditions in North Carolina remain far from healthy. Look beyond the important yet limited measure of the unemployment rate, and one will see labor market dynamics broadly consistent with the sluggish ones that have characterized the past four years. Some four years into a recovery, North Carolina still has fewer jobs and more unemployment than it did before the recession.”

02.05.2014 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

US Labor Market Takes A Wild Ride In April

CHAPEL HILL, NC (May 2, 2014) – In April, the national labor market added 288,000 more jobs than it lost (+2.1 percent) due mainly to gains in the private sector. This net gain was the largest one logged in any month since January 2012 and was the third-largest monthly gain recorded since October 2010. Yet the household data painted a more negative picture of the labor market, with the number of employed persons actually declining in April.

“April was the 43rd-straight month in which the United States experienced net job growth,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the year, the economy has netted an average of 197,000 jobs per month, but it still remains 7.1 million jobs short of the total needed to replace the jobs lost since 2007 and to meet subsequent population growth.”

In April, the nation’s employers added 288,000 more payroll jobs than they cut (+2.1 percent). Some 95 percent of the gain came from the private sector (+273,000), while public employers added 15,000 more positions than they cut. Within the private sector, payroll levels rose the most in the professional business services sector (+75,000, with 51.5 percent of the gain occurring in the administrative and waste services subsector), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+59,000, with 58.5 percent of the gain occurring in the retail trade subsector) and the education and health services sector (+40,000, with 69.8 percent of the gain occurring in the health care and the social assistance subsector). Payroll levels in the other major industry groups rose or held steady.

Additionally, the payroll employment numbers for February and March underwent revisions; with the updates, the economy netted 425,000 jobs over those two months, not the 389,000 positions previously reported. With those changes, the average pace of monthly job growth in the United States recorded over the past year rose to 197,000 from 194,000.

“While the United States has experienced steady job growth for the past 3.5 years, the pace of growth has been modest relative to the severity of the job losses caused by the last recession,” noted Quinterno. “The current average monthly rate of job growth is insufficient to close the nation’s jobs gap anytime soon.”

Data from the household survey, meanwhile, offered a more negative picture of the state of the United States’ labor market. In April, the number of Americans who reported having jobs actually decreased by 73,000 persons (-0.1 percent); put differently, fewer people reported having jobs in April than in March. And the overall size of the labor force declined by 806,000 persons between March and April. Compared to March, fewer Americans participated in the labor force in April, and the share of working-age people with a job was unchanged.

In April, 9.8 million Americans were unemployed (6.3 percent), while 7.5 million individuals worked part time despite preferring full-time positions. Another 783,000 individuals (not seasonally adjusted) were so discouraged about their job prospects that they had stopped searching for work altogether. Those persons were part of a larger population of 2.2 million Americans who were marginally attached to the labor force.

Compared to a year ago, 2 million more Americans were working in April, and 1.9 million fewer persons were unemployed. At the same time, the share of the working-age population with a job (58.9 percent) remained at a depressed level, while the share of the population that was participating in the labor force actually decreased over the year, falling to 62.8 percent from 63.4 percent.

Last month, the unemployment rate was higher among adult male workers than female ones (5.9 percent versus 5.7 percent). Unemployment rates were higher among Black (11.6 percent) and Hispanic workers (7.3 percent) than among white ones (5.3 percent). The unemployment rate among teenagers was 19.1 percent.

Additionally, 5.6 percent of all veterans were unemployed in April, and the rate among recent veterans (served after September 2001) was 6.8 percent. At the same time, 12.5 percent of Americans with disabilities were jobless and seeking work (not seasonally adjusted).

Jobs remained comparatively hard to find in April. Last month, the underemployment rate equaled 12.3 percent, down from the 13.9 percent rate logged a year ago. Among unemployed workers, 35.3 percent had been jobless for at least six months (compared to 37.4 percent a year earlier), and the average spell of unemployment equaled 35.1 weeks, down from 36.6 weeks in April 2013.

In April, the leading cause of unemployment remained a job loss or the completion of a temporary job, which was the reason cited by 54.1 percent of unemployed persons. Another 27.1 percent of unemployed persons were re-entrants to the labor market, while 10.8 percent were new entrants. Voluntary job leavers accounted for the remaining 8.1 percent of the total.

“The April employment report painted a mixed portrait of the American labor market,” observed Quinterno. “The payroll survey contained positive findings, but the data in the household survey were much more negative. While the economy is netting jobs at a somewhat more robust pace than first thought, it is not adding enough jobs, rapidly enough to provide employment opportunities to all those who want and need work. Even with the recent drops in the unemployment rate, the United States’ jobs crisis remains far from over.”