Policy Points

12.07.2013 Policy Points No Comments

“How To Disappear The Unemployed”

Writing in The Huffington Post, George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project describes changes to North Carolina’s unemployment insurance syste  as an unfortunate example of “how to disappear the unemployed.”

That line drawn by Governor McCrory and the Republican majorities in the North Carolina General Assembly has taken the war on the unemployed to the next level. This week, more than 70,000 unemployed North Carolinians lost their federal unemployment insurance — benefits that help pay for food, rents and mortgages; benefits that are not funded by the state or its employers; dollars that would help boost consumer demand by more than $1 billion in a state that still boasts the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country.

As we slowly turn the corner in today’s economy and unemployment fatigue settles in, we risk losing sight of those Americans still fighting to get back in the game — families that are patching together temporary assignments, multiple part-time jobs, low-paying work with less job security, and those still looking for an employer to take a chance on them. They are not just the rubble of the economic crisis to be cleared away and pushed out of public view. As a nation, it is time to stand up against attacks on the unemployed. We are better than this.

11.07.2013 Policy Points No Comments

NC Unemployment Claims: Week Of 6/22/13

For the benefit week ending on June 22, 2013, some 9,570 North Carolinians filed initial claims for state unemployment insurance benefits and 76,031 individuals applied 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 10,787 initial claims were filed over the previous four weeks, along with an average of 86,573 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 11,080, and the four-week average of continuing claims equaled 99,681.

In recent months covered employment has increased and now exceeds the level recorded a year ago (3.82 million versus 3.76 million). Nevertheless, there are still fewer covered workers than there were in January 2008, which means that payrolls are smaller today than they were 5.5 years ago.

The graph 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.  Yet continuing claims remain at an elevated level, which suggests that unemployed individuals are finding it difficult to find new positions.


10.07.2013 Policy Points No Comments

“The Decline Of North Carolina”

An editorial in today’s issue of The New York Times assesses some of the policy changes underway in North Carolina.

The cruelest decision by lawmakers went into effect last week: ending federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 residents. Another 100,000 will lose their checks in a few months. Those still receiving benefits will find that they have been cut by a third, to a maximum of $350 weekly from $535, and the length of time they can receive benefits has been slashed from 26 weeks to as few as 12 weeks.

The state has the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the country, and many Republicans insulted workers by blaming their joblessness on generous benefits. In fact, though, North Carolina is the only state that has lost long-term federal benefits, because it did not want to pay back $2.5 billion it owed to Washington for the program. The State Chamber of Commerce argued that cutting weekly benefits would be better than forcing businesses to pay more in taxes to pay off the debt, and lawmakers blindly went along, dropping out of the federal program.

09.07.2013 Policy Points No Comments

“Running The Numbers” To Be Released In December 2013

Earlier today, M.E. Sharpe, Inc. released information about the upcoming release of “Running the Numbers: A Practical Guide to Regional Economic and Social Analysis” by John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, Ltd. Additionally, academics who might be interested in assigning the book in their classes can request a desk review copy from M.E. Sharpe.





09.07.2013 Policy Points No Comments

Job Openings In May 2013

From the Economic Policy Institute’s analysis of the May 2013 version of the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) …

In May, the number of job seekers, which increased by 101,000 from April, was 11.8 million (unemployment data are from the Current Population Survey … ). The “job-seekers ratio”—the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings—was unchanged in May at 3.1-to-1. The ratio has been 3.0-to-1 or greater since October 2008, more than four-and-a-half years ago. A job-seekers ratio above 3-to-1 means there are no jobs for more than two out of three unemployed workers. To put today’s ratio of 3.1-to-1 in perspective, the highest the ratio ever got in the early 2000s downturn was 2.9-to-1 in September 2003. In a labor market with strong job opportunities, the ratio would be close to 1-to-1, as it was in December 2000 (when it was 1.1-to-1).