Policy Points

24.03.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

North Carolina’s Recovery Turns Seven

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 24, 2017) – In February 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 9,100 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent), with small net gains occurring in both the private and public sectors. The monthly household survey, meanwhile, recorded a decrease in both the number of unemployed North Carolinians and in the statewide unemployment rate, which fell to 5.1 percent.

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

“February 2017 marked the seventh anniversary of the start of North Carolina’s labor market recovery from the ‘Great Recession’,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Improvements have been very slow in coming, and as a result, the state’s labor market, while better in some ways, still has not returned to pre-recessionary conditions in other important respects.”

Over the past seven years, North Carolina’s labor market has netted an average of 6,500 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 545,000 positions (+14.2%) from the worst point of the last recession to the present. Today, the state has 4.3 million payroll jobs, up from 3.8 million in February 2010. Yet even with that gain, North Carolina has just 218,000 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.2 percent).

“In recent years, North Carolina has gained jobs at a rate of approximately 2 percent per year,” noted Quinterno. “Such a modest rate of growth has done little to generate real improvements in hourly wages, household incomes, and overall living standards.”

Similar patterns emerge when considering household data related to employment. In February, the statewide unemployment rate fell to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 252,452 from 260,064 (-2.9 percent). For comparison, the unemployment rate in February 2010 was 11.3 percent, with the number of unemployed individuals totaling 522,896.

Since February 2010, the state’s labor force has grown by 7.1 percent, rising to 4.9 million from 4.6 million, with the number of employed persons having increased by 14.6 percent, ticking up to 4.7 million from 4.1 million.

“North Carolina’s labor market has improved over the past seven years, and conditions are better today than they were during the worst part of the recession,” explained Quinterno. “The labor market remains far from healthy, however, and its abilities to accommodate all those who want and need work and generate rising wages and incomes remain impaired.”

13.03.2017 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC’s Labor Market Starts 2017 Slowly

CHAPEL HILL, NC (March 13, 2017) – In the first month of 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively cut 6,600 more payroll jobs than they added (-0.2 percent), with net losses occurring in both the private and public sectors. The monthly household survey, meanwhile, recorded a slight increase in both the number of unemployed North Carolinians and in the statewide unemployment rate, which rose to 5.3 percent.

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

“North Carolina’s labor market got off to a slow start in 2017, with the state experiencing a monthly decline in the number of payroll jobs for the first time since early 2015,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The drop, however, was slight, and it was consistent with the pattern of slow growth that has defined North Carolina’s recovery over the past seven years.”

Between December 2016 and January 2017, North Carolina employers cut 6,600 more payroll jobs than they added (-0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls lost, on net, 1,400 positions (-0.1 percent), and public-sector payrolls lost, on net, 5,200 jobs (-0.7 percent). Within private industry, the manufacturing sector shed the most jobs (-4,700, -1 percent), followed by the leisure and hospitality sector (-1,900, -0.4 percent), the professional and business services sector (-1,200, -0.2 percent), and the information sector (-800, -1 percent). The losses in those industries were partially offset by gains in trade, trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+1,800, +0.2 percent), the financial services sector (+1,700, +0.7 percent), the other services sector (+1,500, +1 percent), and the construction sector (+1,100, +0.5 percent).

Today’s data release from the Labor and Economic Analysis Division also reflects the annual benchmark revision, in which historical monthly estimates are adjusted to a complete job count derived chiefly from unemployment insurance tax filings. That benchmark revision showed that North Carolina gained more payroll jobs in 2016 than first thought (+94,000 vs. +85,200). Meanwhile, the state gained more jobs in 2015 than first estimated (+101,300 vs. +84,200), while adding fewer jobs in 2014 than first measured (+94,900 vs. 96,000).

“After accounting for recent data revisions, North Carolina now has 207,900 more payroll jobs, or 5 percent more, than it did when the ‘Great Recession’ began in December 2007,” said Quinterno. “Since the statewide recovery began in February 2010, North Carolina has gained an average of 6,400 jobs per month, resulting in cumulative gain of 534,700 jobs.”

Another trend revealed by the data revision is how remarkably consistent job growth has been over the last five years. Since 2012, the number of payroll jobs in North Carolina has grown at a rate of approximately 2 percent per year, with specific annual growth rates ranging from 1.8 percent in 2012 to 2.4 percent in 2015. The exact rate for 2016 was 2.2 percent.

“Although consistent, an annual rate of job growth of 2 percent coming on the heels of a brutal recession is not adequate to accommodate North Carolina’s growing working-age population,” cautioned Quinterno. “Such a modest rate of growth also is unlikely to generate any real improvements in hourly wages, household incomes, and overall living standards.”

Similar patterns emerge when considering household data related to employment. In January, the statewide unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons climbing to 260,150 from 256,852 (+1.3 percent). In January, the state’s labor force grew by 0.3 percent, rising to 4.93 million from 4.92 million, with the number of employed persons increasing by 0.2 percent, ticking up to 4.67 million from 4.66 million.

Based on the recent data revisions, North Carolina’s monthly unemployment rate averaged 5.1 percent in 2016, as compared to 5.7 percent in 2015. On average, fewer North Carolinians were unemployed in 2016 than in 2015 (248,000 vs. 271,000), while more people were employed in the typical month (4.6 million vs. 4.5 million).

A defining characteristic of the “Great Recession” and the subsequent recovery has been a sharp drop in the share of the working-age population that is even participating in the labor force. In 2016, that proportion averaged 61.7 percent, up from 61.3 percent in 2015. Yet in 2007, the rate averaged 62.4 percent. If the 2007 rate had been in effect in 2016, an additional 307,778 individuals (+6.3 percent), on average, would have been in the state’s labor force.

The same dynamic applies to the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed. In 2016, that proportion averaged 58.9 percent, up from 57.8 percent in 2015. Yet in 2007, the rate averaged 62.4 percent. If the 2007 rate had been in effect in 2016, an additional 274,600 individuals (+5.9 percent), on average, would have been employed.

“2017 is a potential turning point for North Carolina’s slow labor market recovery,” explained Quinterno. “Left to its own devices, a 2 percent increase in payroll employment seems likely, given how that has been the case for each of the last five years. Yet a great deal of uncertainty exists in light of possible changes in the United States’ fiscal and monetary policies. Some changes could serve to accelerate growth, while others could slow it further, resulting in an even more difficult landscape for working North Carolinians to navigate.”

16.12.2016 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Rate Ticked Up In Nov.

CHAPEL HILL, NC (December 16, 2016) – In November, employers in North Carolina added 9,000 more payroll jobs than they cut, due entirely to hiring in the private sector. So far in 2016, North Carolina has netted 78,200 payroll jobs (+1.9 percent), due primarily to private-sector hiring. Meanwhile, the statewide unemployment rate of 5 percent was 0.6 percentage points lower in November than it was a year ago.

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

“The job growth experienced so far in North Carolina in 2016 is no different from the pattern experienced since the beginning of the recovery in early 2010,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Although job growth has been consistent over the past 6.5 years, that growth has proven insufficient to accommodate all those who want and need work.”

From October to November, North Carolina employers added 9,000 more jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls added, on net, 10,800 positions (+0.3 percent), with public-sector payrolls shrinking by 1,800 positions (-0.2 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector gained, on net, the most payroll jobs (+4,800, +0.8 percent), followed by the leisure and hospitality services sector (+3,600, +0.8 percent) and the manufacturing sector (+2,000, +0.4 percent). Meanwhile, the education and health services sector shed the most payroll jobs (-2,700, -0.5 percent), followed by the construction sector (-1,200, -0.6 percent).

A revision to the October payroll data found that the state netted slightly fewer jobs than first estimated (+5,500 versus +5,700). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 185,400 more payroll positions (+4.5 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,300 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 512,000 positions (+13.3 percent).Over the year, North Carolina employers added 81,800 more jobs than they cut (+1.9 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 75,500 positions (+2.1 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 6,300 jobs (+0.9 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+25,800, +4.3 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+18,300, +2.3 percent) and the construction sector (+10,600, +5.6 percent).

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 has not closed the state’s sizable jobs 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 needs relative to the population growth that has occurred over the same period.”

The monthly household data for November also pointed to some improvements in the state’s labor market. Although the statewide unemployment rate of 5 percent was higher than the 4.9 percent rate in October, the rate was lower than the 5.6 percent one logged a year earlier.

Much of the increase in the statewide unemployment rate between October and November was due to a 27,293 person expansion (+0.6 percent) in the size of the labor force. Between October and November, the number of unemployed North Carolinians rose by 6,234 persons (+2.6 percent), while the number of employed persons increased by 21,059 individuals (+0.5 percent).

With those changes, North Carolina now has a total labor force of 4,880,813 persons, of whom 4,637,823 are employed, 242,990 unemployed.

The month-over-month expansion in the size of the labor force further was reflected in a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.5 percent from 61.3 percent. That rate, however, remains just 0.8 percentage points above the lowest monthly rate logged at any point since January 1976.

“Slow-but-steady growth continues to define North Carolina’s recovery from the ‘Great Recession,’ yet that growth is inadequate to meet the employment needs of a growing state,” said Quinterno. “That is why the growth experienced so far during the recovery has failed to produce meaningful improvements in the wages, incomes, and living standards of the North Carolinians who depend on the labor market to support themselves and their families.”

18.11.2016 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Rate Rose In Oct.

CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 18, 2016) – In October, employers in North Carolina added 5,700 more payroll jobs than they cut, due entirely to hiring in the private sector. So far in 2016, North Carolina has netted 69,400 payroll jobs (+1.6 percent), due primarily to private-sector growth. Meanwhile, the statewide unemployment rate of 4.9 in October was 0.7 percentage points lower than it was a year ago.

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

“The job growth experienced so far in North Carolina in 2016 is in line with the slow recovery underway since early 2010,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The state remains mired in the same pattern of underwhelming job growth that has characterized that past 6.5 years.”

From September to October, North Carolina employers added 5,700 more jobs than they cut (+0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls added, on net, 6,300 positions (+0.2 percent), with public sector payrolls shrinking by 600 positions (-0.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector gained, on net, the most payroll jobs (+5,500, +0.9 percent), followed by the leisure and hospitality services sector (+3,600, +0.8 percent) and the construction sector (+1,900, +1 percent). The other services sector, meanwhile, cut, on net, 2,200 jobs (-1.4 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (-900, -0.1 percent) and the information sector (-800, -1.1 percent).

A revision to the September payroll data found that the state netted more jobs than first estimated (+11,100 versus +9,700). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 176,600 more payroll positions (+4.2 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,300 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 503,200 positions (+13 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 84,700 more jobs than they cut (+2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 76,800 positions (+2.2 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 7,900 jobs (+1.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+27,400, +4.6 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+19,600, +2.4 percent) and the education and health services sector (+9,600, +1.7 percent) sector.

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 has not 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 given the growth in the state’s working-age population.”

The monthly household data for October painted a mixed picture of the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate of 4.9 percent was up from the 4.7 percent rate in September. At the same time, the unemployment rate was lower than the 5.6 percent rate logged in October 2015.

Much of the increase in the statewide unemployment rate between September and October was due to a 30,261 person expansion (+0.6 percent) in the size of the labor force. Between September and October, the number of unemployed North Carolinians actually rose by 10,095 persons (+4.4 percent), while the number of employed persons increased by 20,166 individuals (+0.4 percent).

The month-over-month expansion in the size of the labor force further was reflected in a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.3 percent from 61 percent. That rate, however, remains just 0.6 percentage points above the lowest monthly rate logged at any point since January 1976.

“Slow-but-steady job growth has defined North Carolina’s recovery from the ‘Great Recession,’ but that growth has not been sufficient to accommodate the employment needs of a growing working-age population,” said Quinterno. “Those conditions explain to a large degree why many working North Carolinians are struggling to realize improvements in their wages, incomes, and living standards.”

19.08.2016 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

A Mixed Performance for NC’s Labor Market

CHAPEL HILL, NC (August 19, 2016) – In July, employers in North Carolina added 12,000 more payroll jobs than they cut, with net gains occurring in the private and public sectors. So far in 2016, North Carolina has netted 65,600 payroll jobs, due primarily to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 4.7 in July was one percentage point lower than it was a year ago, as well as the lowest monthly rate recorded since mid-2007.

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

“The job growth experienced so far in North Carolina in 2016 is consistent with the slow recovery underway since early 2010,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The recovery has yet to reverse the severe economic damage inflicted during the recession.”

From June to July 2016, North Carolina employers added 12,000 more jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls added, on net, 6,800 positions (+0.2 percent), with public sector payrolls growing by 5,200 positions (+0.7 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector gained, on net, the most payroll jobs (+3,300, +0.5 percent), followed by the financial activities sector (+2,600, +1.2 percent) and the construction sector (+1,900, +1 percent). The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, cut, on net, 1,700 jobs (-0.4 percent), followed by the trade transportation, and utilities sector (-1,500, -0.2 percent).

A revision to the June payroll data found that the state netted fewer jobs than first estimated (+18,800 versus +19,400). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 172,800 more payroll positions (+4.2 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,500 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 499,400 positions (+13 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 94,100 more jobs than they cut (+2.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 79,200 positions (+2.2 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 14,900 jobs (+2.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+28,600, +4.8 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+20,700, +2.6 percent) and the leisure and hospitality services sector (+9,500, +2.1 percent) sector.

“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 given the growth in the state’s working-age population that has occurred.”

The monthly household data for July offered a more negative view of the labor market. The statewide unemployment rate of 4.7 percent was down from the 4.9 percent rate in June. The July rate of 4.7 percent also was the lowest monthly rate logged since June 2007.

Much of the decline in the statewide unemployment rate between June and July, however, was due to a reduction in the size of the labor force by 26,156 persons (-0.5 percent). Between June and July, the number of employed North Carolinians actually fell by 13,203 persons (-0.3 percent), and the number of unemployed persons fell by 12,953 persons (-5.4 percent). Had all of those persons been considered unemployed, the unemployment rate would have been 5.2 percent.

The contraction in the size of the labor force further was reflected in a 0.4 percentage point decline in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.1 percent from 61.5 percent. That was the lowest rate recorded since last January, as well as one that was just 0.4 percentage points above the lowest monthly rate logged at any point since January 1976.

“North Carolina’s labor market has improved noticeably since the worst part of the ‘Great Recession,’ but conditions still not are strong enough to accommodate all those who want and need work,” said Quinterno. “Such subpar labor market conditions are incapable of generating meaningful improvements in wages, incomes, and household living standards.”