02.03.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

Local Unemployment Rates Rose In 2015

CHAPEL HILL, NC (February 3, 2016) – From December 2014 to December 2015, unemployment rates (unadjusted) rose in 81 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 grew in 59 counties and in 12 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 2015, many local labor markets in North Carolina continued their slow recovery from the last recession,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “While unemployment rates rose in the overwhelming majority of the state’s counties and metro areas over the year, labor force sizes also increased in many of the same communities. That suggests that rising unemployment rates in many places were driven by people entering or returning to the labor market.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 2.9 percent more payroll jobs (+121,900). In December 2015, the state gained 6,900 more jobs than it lost (+0.2 percent). Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted some 6,400 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 448,700 payroll jobs (+11.7 percent).

Between November and December of 2015, local unemployment rates fell in 70 of the state’s 100 counties, rose in 21 counties, and held constant in 9 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 3.9 percent in Buncombe County to 12 percent in Graham County. Overall, 3 counties posted unemployment rates greater than or equal to 10 percent, and 34 counties posted rates between 6 and 9.9 percent; 63 counties had unemployment rates between 3.9 and 5.9 percent.

“The combined December unemployment rate in North Carolina’s non-metropolitan counties was 4.2 percent,” noted Quinterno. “These 54 non-metropolitan counties are home to 22 percent of the state’s labor force. Compared to December 2007, non-metro areas have 5.4 percent fewer employed persons, while the number of unemployed individuals is 8.5 percent greater. Over that time, the size of the non-metro labor force has fallen by 4.8 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 has 15 metropolitan statistical areas, up from 14; the addition is the three-county New Bern metropolitan statistical area.

Between November and December, unemployment rates fell in 13 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (7.3 percent), followed by Fayetteville (6.8 percent) and Goldsboro (5.9 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (4.2 percent), followed by Raleigh-Cary (4.4 percent), and Durham-Chapel Hill (4.5 percent).

Compared to December 2014, unemployment rates in December 2015 were higher in 81 counties and in 14 metro areas. Over the year, however, labor force sizes increased in 59 counties and in 12 metros. The statewide labor force (unadjusted), meanwhile, was 3.5 percent larger (+158,693 individuals) in December 2015 than it was in December 2014.

Almost all of the year-over-year growth in the size of the state’s labor force occurred in the state’s metro areas, which collectively added 146,758 persons (+5.8 percent). Among individual metros, Burlington’s labor force grew at the fastest rate (+9.5 percent) over the course of the year, followed by Charlotte (+8.5 percent) and Raleigh (+5.6 percent).

Decreases in labor force sizes occurred in Fayetteville (-9.2 percent), Jacksonville (-5.3 percent), and Goldsboro (-0.4 percent).

With those changes, metro areas now are home to 78.3 percent of the state’s labor force, with 56.6 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. Collectively, employment in the 3 broad regions has risen by 11.5 percent since December 2007; the combined unemployment rate in December 2015 totaled 4.8 percent, compared to 4.5 percent in December 2007. These regions also were responsible for almost all of the employment growth that occurred over the year.

Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest December unemployment rate (4.6 percent), followed by Charlotte (4.9 percent) and the Piedmont Triad (5.1 percent).

In December 2015, the number of unemployment insurance initial claims filed in North Carolina totaled 24,427 down from the 26,767 initial claims filed a year earlier (-8.7 percent).

Also in December 2015, North Carolinians received a (nominal) total of $18.7 million in unemployment insurance compensation, down from the (nominal) $27.6 million received in December 2014 (-32.4 percent). The average weekly unemployment insurance payment in North Carolina in December 2015 was $238.

“Many local labor markets in North Carolina experienced some improvements in 2015, but those gains came at a very leisurely pace,” said Quinterno. “Many of the improvements were concentrated in the state’s metropolitan areas, especially the Research Triangle, the Piedmont Triad, and Charlotte. Smaller metros and non-metropolitan areas continue to lag behind during a slow recovery that is about to enter its sixth year.”

01.27.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

Job Growth in North Carolina Slowed In 2015

CHAPEL HILL, NC (January 26, 2015) – Over the course of 2015, employers in North Carolina added 86,800 more payroll jobs than they cut, with virtually all of the net gains originating in the private sector. Compared to 2014, however, North Carolina added fewer jobs in both absolute and relative terms. Meanwhile, the statewide unemployment rate rose in 2015, climbing to 5.6 percent in December 2015, from 5.4 percent in December 2014.

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

“Payroll job growth in North Carolina slowed in 2015,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “The state netted 86,800 jobs over the course of the year compared to 110,200 in 2014.”

Job growth in 2015 occurred in the same slow manner experienced since early 2010, which is when the state’s labor market began to recover from the last recession. Yet the current pace of monthly job growth—a pace that has averaged 6,400 jobs per month since February 2010—is insufficient to close the state’s sizable job gap anytime soon. Put differently, while North Carolina has more jobs than it did when the recession started, it does not have as many jobs as it needed to accommodate the population growth that has occurred during the same period.

Meanwhile, the statewide unemployment rate and the number of unemployed North Carolinians rose over the course of 2015. In December 2015, the number of unemployed North Carolinians totaled 269,833, up 7.9 percent from the figure recorded a year earlier. During that same span, the statewide unemployment rate rose by 0.2 percentage points, climbing to 5.6 percent from 5.4 percent.

That said, the household data for North Carolina showed some improvements in 2015. The number of employed persons rose by 147,029 (+3.4 percent), while the overall size of the labor force grew by 166,385 persons (+3.6 percent). This suggests that the increase in unemployment was due to more people participating in the labor market in the first place.

Underlying those changes in the labor force data was an increase in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market. The labor force participation rate rose over the course of 2015, increasing to 61.3 percent in December 2015 from 59.8 percent in December 2014; incidentally, the December 2014 rate was the lowest posted in any month since January 1976. The share of working-age North Carolinians with a job also increased over the year, rising to 57.8 percent in December 2015 from 56.6 percent in December 2014.

“North Carolina’s labor market logged some improvements in 2015, but those improvements came at a very leisurely pace,” said Quinterno. “That pace is basically sufficient to keep abreast with the growth in the size of the labor force, while bringing about some modest reductions in the large job gap caused by the last recession—a recession that began eight years ago.”

12.18.2015 News Releases, Policy Points

North Carolina Labor Market Improved In Nov.

CHAPEL HILL, NC (December 18, 2015) – In November, employers in North Carolina added 11,400 more payroll jobs than they cut, with all of the gains originating in the private sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 91,200 more payroll jobs than it lost, due overwhelmingly to growth in the private sector. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.7 percent in November was unchanged from October and was 0.2 percentage points higher than 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 11 months of 2015, North Carolina has gained 75,900 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 94,900 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 111,000 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”

Between October 2015 and November 2015, North Carolina employers added 11,400 more jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 11,600 positions (+0.3 percent), with public sector payrolls remaining essentially unchanged. Within private industry, the education and health services sector netted the most payroll jobs (+4,700, +0.8 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities sector (+4,200, +0.5 percent) and the professional and business services sector (+4,000, +0.7 percent). The construction sector, meanwhile, lost the most jobs, on net (-4,200, -2.2 percent).

A revision to the October payroll data found that the state lost fewer jobs than first reported (-1,000 versus an original estimate of -3,100 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 111,000 more payroll positions (+2.7 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 437,800 positions (+11.4 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 91,200 more jobs than they cut (+2.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 88,500 positions (+2.5 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 2,700 jobs (+0.4 percent). Within private industry, every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+20,400, +3.5 percent), followed by the education and health services (+16,500, +2.9 percent) and the trade, transportation, and utilities (+13,300, +1.7 percent) sectors.

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010  has not yet closed the state’s job gap—a gap that may be as high as 411,000 payroll jobs,” noted Quinterno. “North Carolina indeed has more jobs than it did when the recession started, but not as many as it should have.”

The monthly household data for November also contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate in November was 5.7 percent, which was unchanged from the rate logged in October. Between October and November, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 2,015 persons (-0.7 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 15,466 (+0.3 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 13,451 persons (+0.3 percent).

Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate rose from 5.5 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians rising by 15,615 persons (+6.1 percent). During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 133,817 individuals (+3.1 percent), and the size of the labor force increased by 149,432 persons (+3.2 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 61.1 percent from 59.9 percent) and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed (to 57.6 percent from 56.6 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 continues to improve at a slow-but-steady pace,” said Quinterno. “That pace is basically sufficient to keep pace with the growth in the size of the labor force, while bringing about some reductions in the large job gap that remains from the last recession—a recession that began almost eight years ago.”

11.20.2015 News Releases, Policy Points

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.”

10.13.2015 Our Projects, Policy Points

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.