Policy Points

14.11.2013 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 10/26/13

For the benefit week ending on October 26, 2013, North Carolinians filed some 6,877 initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 70,053 claims for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were more initial claims and fewer continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 6,436 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 70,367 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was higher, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 12,606, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 96,459.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.85 million versus 3.78 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were almost six years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.
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Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably.  In fact, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is now at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen to the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (6,436) was 48.9 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (12,606), while the average number of continuing claims was  27 percent lower (70,367 versus 96,459). Given the relative lack of improvement in labor market condition in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.

31.10.2013 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 10/12/13

For the benefit week ending on October 12, 2013, North Carolinians filed some 6,083 initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 70,775 claims for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial claims and more continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 6,170 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 71,342 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was lower, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 12,169, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 96,185.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.84 million versus 3.78 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were more than 5.5 years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.
untitled

Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably.  In fact, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is now at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen to the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (6,170) was 49.3 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (12,169), while the average number of continuing claims was  25.8 percent lower (71,342 versus 96,185). Given the relative lack of improvement in labor market condition in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.

03.10.2013 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 9/14/13

For the benefit week ending on September 14, 2013, North Carolinians filed some 6,111 initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 73,162 claims for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were fewer initial claims and fewer continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 6,038 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 75,881 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was lower, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 10,369, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 96,252.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.84 million versus 3.77 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were more than 5.5 years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.
untitled

Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably.  In fact, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is now at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen to the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (6,038) was 41.8 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (10,369), while the average number of continuing claims was  21.2 percent lower (75,881 versus 96,252). Given the relative lack of improvement in labor market condition in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.

02.10.2013 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Local Unemployment Rates Down Across NC

CHAPEL HILL, NC (October 2, 2013) – Between August 2012 and August 2013, unemployment rates fell in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties and in all 14 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over that same period, the size of the labor force decreased in 78 counties and in 12 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 have trended downward over the course of 2013,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Unemployment rates nevertheless remain elevated, with 22 counties and one metro area posting unemployment rates of at least 10 percent. In August 2008, in contrast, seven counties and no metro areas had unemployment rates of at least 10 percent.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 2.8 percent fewer jobs (-115,700). In August, the state lost 1,700 more jobs than it gained (+/-0 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 5,050 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 212,100 positions (+5.5 percent).

Between July 2013 and August 2013, local unemployment rates decreased in 98 of the state’s 100 counties, rose in one county, and held steady in one county. Individual county rates ranged from 4.1 percent in Currituck County to 15.2 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 22 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 66 counties posted rates between 7 and 9.9 percent.

“Non-metropolitan labor markets consistently have struggled relative to metropolitan ones,” noted Quinterno. “In August, 9.2 percent of the non-metro labor force was unemployed, compared to 7.9 percent of the metro labor force. Compared to December 2007, the non-metro labor force now has 5.4 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 63.1 percent larger.”

Over the month, unemployment rates fell in all 14 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (12 percent), followed by Fayetteville (9.8 percent) and Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (9.1 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (6.3 percent), followed by Durham-Chapel Hill (6.5 percent) and Raleigh-Cary (6.8 percent).

Compared to August 2012, unemployment rates in August 2013 were lower in all 100 counties and all 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes decreased in 78 counties and in 12 metros. In fact, the statewide labor force was 0.6 percent smaller (-28,882 individuals) in August 2013 than it was in August 2012. Among metros, Rocky Mount’s labor force contracted at the greatest rate (-3 percent), followed by Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir (-1.8 percent) and Fayetteville (-1.4 percent). With those changes, metro areas now are home to 71.8 percent of the state’s labor force, with 50.5 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 remains muted. Collectively, employment in those three metro regions has risen by 3.3 percent since December 2007, and the combined August unemployment rate in the three regions equaled 7.7 percent. That was down from the 9 percent rate recorded one year ago yet was well above the 6.3 percent rate recorded in August 2008. Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest August unemployment rate (6.8 percent), followed by the Piedmont Triad (8.3 percent) and Charlotte (8.4 percent).

The local employment report for August also provides 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 28,443, down from the 51,446 initial claims filed a year earlier (-44.7 percent). Mecklenburg County was home to greatest number of regular initial claims (3,155), followed by Wake (2,020), Guilford (1,570), Cumberland (1,287), and Forsyth (914) counties.

Between September 2012 and August 2013, North Carolinians received a (nominal) total of $2.3 billion in unemployment insurance compensation, down from the (nominal) $3.1 billion received between September 2011 and August 2012.

“Despite the passage of 3.5 years since the onset of a labor market recovery in North Carolina, local unemployment rates remain elevated throughout much of the state,” said Quinterno. “Recent declines in local unemployment rates actually are masking a number of alarming developments—developments that signal a labor market that is under-performing. The modest recovery that North Carolina has experienced in recent years appears to be stalling out in 2013.”

26.09.2013 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 9/7/13

For the benefit week ending on September 7, 2013, some 6,296 North Carolinians filed initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 75,334 individuals applied for state-funded continuing benefits. Compared to the prior week, there were more initial claims and fewer continuing claims. These figures come from data released by the US Department of Labor.

Averaging new and continuing claims over a four-week period — a process that helps adjust for seasonal fluctuations and better illustrates trends — shows that an average of 6,062 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 77,956 continuing claims. Compared to the previous four-week period, the average number of initial claims was lower, and the average number of continuing claims was lower.

One year ago, the four-week average for initial claims stood at 11,176, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 98,227.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.84 million versus 3.77 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were more than 5.5 years ago.

The graph (below right) shows the changes  in unemployment insurance claims measured as a share of covered employment in North Carolina since the recession’s start in December 2007.
untitled

Both new and continuing claims appear to have peaked for this cycle, and the four-week averages of new and continuing claims have fallen considerably.  In fact, the four-week average of initial claims, when measured as a share of covered employment, is now at the lowest level recorded since early 2008. The four-week average of continuing claims also has fallen to the lowest level recorded since early 2008.

Note that the recent declines in new and continuing claims are not necessarily indicative of an improving labor market. State legislation that took effect on July 1, 2013, made major changes to insurance eligibility criteria, and the more stringent criteria eliminate claims that would have been valid prior to July 1. In time, this development also should reduce the number of continuing claims. Additionally, the legislation reduced the maximum number of weeks  of state-funded insurance for which a claimant is eligible — an action that eventually should lead to a reduction in the number of continuing claims.

To place the numbers in context, consider how the four-week average of initial claims (6,062) was 45.8 percent lower than the figure recorded one year ago (11,176), while the average number of continuing claims was  20.6 percent lower (77,956 versus 98,227). Given the relative lack of improvement in labor market condition in North Carolina over the past year, such declines likely are products of changes to unemployment insurance laws rather than improvements in underlying economic conditions.