CHAPEL HILL, NC (April 15, 2016) – In March, employers in North Carolina added 12,500 more payroll jobs than they cut, with job gains in the private sector offset by job losses in the public sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 104,300 more payroll jobs than it lost, due mainly to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in March was unchanged from February, and it was 0.3 percentage points lower than it was a year earlier.
These findings come from new data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.
“During the first quarter of 2016, North Carolina gained 33,700 more payroll jobs than it lost,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “For comparison, the corresponding figure in 2015 was a gain of 13,600 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 140,900 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”
Between February 2016 and March 2016, North Carolina employers added 12,500 more jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 14,000 positions (+0.4 percent), with public sector payrolls contracting by 1,500 positions (-0.2 percent). Within private industry, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector netted the most payroll jobs (+6,600, +0.8 percent), followed by the professional and business services (+3,900, +0.6 percent) and the education and health services sector (+3,000, +0.5 percent).
A revision to the February payroll data found that the total payroll level was effectively unchanged from the January figure. With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 140,900 more payroll positions (+3.4 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,400 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 467,500 positions (+12.2 percent).
Over the year, North Carolina employers added 104,300 more jobs than they cut (+2.5 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 100,600 positions (+2.9 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 3,700 jobs (+0.5 percent). Within private industry, most every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+28,400, +4.9 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities (+27,400, +3.5 percent) and leisure and hospitality services (+16,300, +3.6 percent) sectors.
“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 has not yet closed the state’s sizable job gap,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has more jobs than it did when the recession started, but it does not have as many jobs as it needs.”
The monthly household data for March contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate in March was 5.5 percent, which was unchanged from the rate logged in February. Between February and March, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 131 persons (-0.1 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 34,284 (+0.8 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 34,153 persons (+0.7 percent).
Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians falling by 7,017 persons (-2.6 percent) to a total of 265,918. During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 128,774 individuals (+2.9 percent) to 4,591,429, and the size of the labor force increased by 121,757 persons (+2.6 percent), reaching a total size of 4,857,347 persons.
Other improvements recorded over the course of the year include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.8 percent from 61 percent and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed to 58.4 percent from 57.5 percent. Although both of these measures have increased recently, they remain not too far from the lowest monthly rates recorded at any point since January 1976.
“North Carolina’s labor market continues to improve at a slow-but-steady pace,” said Quinterno. “The pace is sufficient to accommodate the growth in the size of the state’s labor force, yet it is not rapid enough to eliminate the large job gap created by the last recession.”