Policy Points

20.11.2015 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Mixed Labor Market Conditions In October

CHAPEL HILL, NC (November 20, 2015) – In October, employers in North Carolina eliminated 3,100 more payroll jobs than they added, with all of the cuts originating in the private sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 91,000 more payroll jobs than it lost, due overwhelmingly to growth in the private sector. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.7 percent in October was down 0.1 percentage points from September and unchanged from a year earlier.

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

“Through the first ten months of 2015, North Carolina has gained 62,400 more payroll jobs than it has 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 2014 was a gain of 81,600 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 95,700 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”

Between September 2015 and October 2015, North Carolina employers cut 3,100 more jobs than they added (-0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls eliminated, on net, 9,500 positions (-0.3 percent), but public-sector payrolls added, on net, 6,400 jobs (+0.9 percent), thanks entirely to hiring by local governments. Within private industry, the leisure and hospitality services sector shed the most payroll jobs (-7,200, -1.6 percent), followed by the education and health services sector (-4,100, -0.7 percent) and the financial activities sector (-1,700, -0.8 percent). The construction sector, meanwhile, added the most jobs, on net (+2,200, +1.2 percent).

A revision to the September payroll data found that the state gained more jobs than first reported (+13,700 versus an original estimate of +4,700 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 97,500 more payroll positions (+2.3 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 424,300 positions (+11 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 91,000 more jobs than they cut (+2.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 88,900 positions (+2.6 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 2,100 jobs (+0.3 percent). Within private industry, every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+21,000, +3.6 percent), followed by education and health services (+12,900, +2.3 percent).

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 still has not closed the state’s job gap—a gap that may be as high as 420,000 jobs,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has more jobs than it did when the recession started, but the total remains far short of where it should be.”

The monthly household data for October painted a more positive picture of the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate in October was 5.7 percent, which was down slightly from the 5.8 percent rate logged in September. Between September and October, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 2,042 persons (-0.7 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 10,871 (+0.2 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 8,829 persons (+0.2 percent).

Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate held steady at 5.7 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians rising by 11,591 persons (+4.4 percent). During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 124,146 individuals (+2.8 percent), and the size of the labor force increased by 135,737 persons (+2.9 percent).

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 percent from 59.9 percent) and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed (to 57.5 percent from 56.5 percent). Although both of these measures have increased recently, they remain not too far above the lowest monthly rates recorded at any point since January 1976.

Between October 2014 and October 2015, the number of claimants of regular state-funded insurance fell by 32.3 percent, dropping to 22,545 from 33,283. Also in October 2015, the state paid a (nominal) total of $17.5 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, an amount 37.3 percent lower than the (nominal) total of $27.9 million paid in October 2014.

“North Carolina’s labor market continues to improve at a slow-but-steady pace,” said Quinterno. “That pace is roughly sufficient to keep pace with the growth in the size of the labor force, but it is wholly insufficient to eliminate the large job gap and significant labor market problems caused by the last recession—a recession that began almost eight years ago.”

13.10.2015 Our Projects, Policy Points No Comments

A Portrait Of A Changing Chapel Hill

In October 2015, John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, Ltd. presented on the changes to the population and housing stock of the Town of Chapel Hill, NC that have occurred from 1990 to the present. The presentation was delivered as part of an event organized by the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town to educate local voters about issues in upcoming municipal elections.

The presentation (below) compared and contrasted the concepts of economic growth and development, sketched demographic changes within the community, traced the evolution of the town’s housing market, and identified several long-term challenges.

09.10.2015 Our Projects, Policy Points No Comments

North Carolina’s Changing Child Population

In September 2015, South by North Strategies, Ltd. analyzed several decades’ worth of US Census Bureau data to identify changes in the racial and ethnic composition of North Carolina’s child population. The analysis was undertaken for the nonprofit organization EducationNC.

The results of the analysis–an analysis that highlighted the unprecedented diversity of North Carolina’s children–appeared in a column published on the EducationNC web site.

Click here to read “A Child Population Like None Before.”

09.10.2015 Our Projects, Policy Points No Comments

The Landscape Of Economic Opportunity

In October 2015, John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, Ltd. presented on the changes in economic opportunity and hardship that have occurred in North Carolina since 2007. The event was part of a conference organized by the Office of Economic Opportunity within the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The presentation (below) explored the relationship between the state’s underperforming labor market, declining household living standards, and changing economic and social policy realities.

30.09.2015 News Releases, Policy Points No Comments

Unemployment Rates Down Year-Over-Year

CHAPEL HILL, NC (September 30, 2015)–From August 2014 to August 2015, unemployment rates fell in 91 of North Carolina’s 100 counties and in 14 of the state’s 15 metropolitan areas. Over the same period, the size of the local labor force shrank in 56 counties and in 4 metro areas.

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

“In many North Carolina communities, labor market conditions have been improving slowly on a year-over-year basis,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Yet the state’s ongoing, sluggish recovery increasingly is one that is concentrated in a few major metropolitan areas.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 2.2 percent more payroll jobs (+90,600). In August 2015, the state gained 700 more jobs than it lost (+/- 0.0 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 6,300 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 417,000 payroll jobs (+10.9 percent).

Between July and August of 2015, local unemployment rates fell in 86 of the state’s 100 counties, rose in 4 counties, and held constant in 10 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 4.6 percent in Buncombe County to 11.4 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 4 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 63 counties posted rates between 6 and 9.9 percent; 33 counties had unemployment rates between 4.6 and 5.9 percent.

“The combined August unemployment rate in North Carolina’s non-metropolitan counties was 5.1 percent,” noted Quinterno. “These 54 non-metropolitan counties are home to 21.9 percent of the state’s labor force. Compared to December 2007, non-metro areas have 4.1 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 30.5 percent greater. Over that time, the size of the non-metro labor force has fallen by 4.1 percent. In fact, non-metropolitan North Carolina has been responsible for the entire decline in the state’s labor force that has occurred since late 2007.”

Earlier in 2015, the Labor and Economic Analysis Division implemented new definitions of metropolitan and non-metropolitan counties consistent with federal changes made based on the 2010 Census. With those updates, North Carolina now has 46 metropolitan counties and 54 non-metropolitan ones. Additionally, the state now has 15 metropolitan statistical areas, up from 14; the addition is the three-county New Bern metro area.

Between July and August, unemployment rates fell in 14 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (8.8 percent), followed by Fayetteville (8 percent) and Greenville (6.8 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (4.8 percent), followed by Raleigh-Cary (5.2 percent), Durham-Chapel Hill (5.4 percent), and Burlington (5.7 percent).

Compared to August 2014, unemployment rates in August 2015 were lower in 91 counties and in 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes decreased in 56 counties and in 4 metros. The statewide labor force (unadjusted), meanwhile, was 2.1 percent larger (+98,296 individuals) in August 2015 than it was in August 2014.

All of the year-over-year growth in the size of the state’s labor force occurred in the three largest metro areas, which collectively added 112,419 persons (+4.4 percent). Among individual metros, Burlington’s labor force grew at the fastest rate (+8.9 percent) over the course of the year, followed by Charlotte (+7.1 percent) and Raleigh (+4.4 percent).

Decreases in labor force sizes occurred in Fayetteville (-9.7 percent), Jacksonville (-4.1 percent), and Goldsboro (-1.1 percent), while the size of Greenville’s labor force was basically unchanged.

With those changes, metro areas now are home to 78.1 percent of the state’s labor force, with 56.3 percent of the labor force residing in the Triangle, Triad, and Charlotte metros.

Improvements in North Carolina’s overall labor market are being driven by developments in the Charlotte, Research Triangle, and Piedmont Triad regions. Over the year, unemployment rates fell in 4 of the 5 metro areas that constitute those regions and held steady in one. Collectively, employment in the 3 broad regions has risen by 9.8 percent since December 2007, and the combined unemployment rate in August totaled 5.6 percent, as compared to 4.5 percent in December 2007. These regions also were responsible for virtually all of the employment growth that occurred over the year.

Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest August unemployment rate (5.5 percent), followed by Charlotte (5.8 percent) and the Piedmont Triad (6 percent).

In August, the number of regular unemployment insurance initial claims filed in North Carolina totaled 16,299 down from the 20,279 initial claims filed a year earlier (-19.6 percent). Mecklenburg County was home to greatest number of regular initial claims (2,047), followed by Wake (1,602), Guilford (1,037), Cumberland (642), and Forsyth (606) counties.

In August 2015, North Carolinians received a (nominal) total of $25.3 million in regular state-funded unemployment insurance compensation, down from the (nominal) $33.1 million received in August 2014. This decline (-23.6 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 have restricted eligibility for unemployment insurance compensation.

“Labor market conditions in many North Carolina communities, especially the largest metropolitan ones, steadily have been improving on a year-over-year basis,” said Quinterno. “At the same time, the overall pace of recovery remains subdued, with conditions in non-metropolitan and small metropolitan places either worsening or stagnating.”