CHAPEL HILL, NC (June 17, 2016) – In May, employers in North Carolina effectively added no more payroll jobs than they cut, as slight job losses in the private sector were offset by gains in the public sector. May further was the second straight month with effectively no net job growth in the state. Over the year, North Carolina gained 78,100 more payroll jobs than it lost, due primarily to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in May was lower than in April, and it was 0.7 percentage points lower than it had been a year earlier.
These findings come from new data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
“North Carolina has experienced relatively little job growth so far in 2016,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Since the beginning of the year, the state has added just 32,700 more jobs than it has lost, with effectively no net job growth having occurred in three of the last four months.”
Between April 2016 and May 2016, North Carolina employers shed 1,600 more jobs than they cut (-0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls cut, on net, 3,800 positions (-0.1 percent), with public sector payrolls expanding by 2,200 positions (+0.3 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services shed, on net, the most payroll jobs (-3,500, -0.6 percent), followed by the construction sector (-2,700, -1.4 percent) and the financial activities sector (-2,500, -1.1 percent). The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, added, on net, 2,700 jobs (+0.6 percent), followed by the education and health services sector (+2,600, +0.4 percent).
A revision to the April payroll data found that the state lost rather than gained jobs (-1,600 versus an original estimate of +1,000 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 139,900 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 6,200 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 466,500 positions (+12.1 percent).
Over the year, North Carolina employers added 78,100 more jobs than they cut (+1.8 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 75,700 positions (+2.2 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 2,400 jobs (+0.3 percent). Within private industry, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector netted the most jobs (+23,700, +3 percent), followed by the professional and business services sector (+23,200, +4 percent) and the leisure and hospitality services sector (+12,900, +2.8 percent).
“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 still 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 still has far fewer jobs than it should have. And the state’s modest rate of progress actually has slowed during the first five months of 2016.”
The monthly household data for May offered a different view of the labor market. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.1 percent was down from the 5.4 percent rate in April. While the May unemployment rate was the lowest one logged since early 2008, it still was slightly above the pre-recessionary rate of 5 percent posted in December 2007.
Between April and May, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 13,589 persons (-5.1 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 6,870 (+0.1 percent). Over that period, the size of the statewide labor force shrank by 6,719 persons (-0.1 percent).
Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians dropping by 25,278 persons (-9.2 percent) to a total of 250,544. During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 142,023 individuals (+3.2 percent) to 4,618,342, and the size of the labor force increased by 116,745 persons (+2.5 percent), reaching a total size of 4,868,886 persons.
Other improvements recorded between May 2015 and May 2016 include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.8 percent from 61.1 percent and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed to 58.6 percent from 57.6 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 has improved noticeably since the worst part of the ‘Great Recession,’ but the pace of job growth, especially so far in 2016, is too modest to accommodate all those who want work,” said Quinterno. “Labor market conditions also are too weak to generate meaningful improvements in wages, incomes, and material living standards.”