08.18.2017 News Releases, Policy Points

NC’s Labor Market Continues To Confound

CHAPEL HILL, NC (August 18, 2017) – In July 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 8,800 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent), due primarily to net hiring in the private sector. 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 4.1 percent, the lowest figure posted since the end of 2000.

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

“Job growth in North Carolina slowed in July,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Over the first seven months of 2017, North Carolina netted a total of 31,700 payroll jobs, which was the smallest net gain over the first seven months of a year since 2011. Based on payroll data, North Carolina’s recovery—a recovery that already was sluggish—clearly has slowed this year.”

Between June 2017 and July 2017, North Carolina employers added 8,800 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.2 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 6,900 positions (+0.2 percent), and public-sector payrolls netted 1,900 jobs (+0.3 percent), due to hiring at the local level. Within private industry, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector netted the most jobs (+3,300, +0.4 percent), followed by the education and health services (+2,700, +0.5 percent) and the leisure and hospitality services (+2,500, +0.5 percent) sectors. The construction sector, meanwhile, shed 2,400 more positions than it added (-1.2 percent).

Since North Carolina’s labor market recovery began in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 6,400 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 573,000 positions (+14.9%) since the worst point of the last recession. Today, the state has 4.4 million payroll jobs, up from 3.8 million in February 2010. Yet even with that gain, North Carolina has just 246,200 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.9 percent).

“While the payroll data recorded in North Carolina so far in 2017 point to a slowing recovery, the household employment data logged so far this year paint a more positive picture of the state’s labor market,” noted Quinterno. “Reconciling these diverging data is essential to understanding what is happening in the labor market and what that means for all those North Carolinians who want and need work.”

Judging by the household survey, North Carolina’s labor market appears to have improved during 2017, at least at a superficial level. Since the year’s start, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.1 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 200,752 from 256,852 (-21.8 percent). For context, the rate in February 2010 was 11.3 percent, with the number of unemployed individuals totaling 522,896.

Also in 2017, the number of employed persons has risen by 0.8 percent, climbing to 4.70 million from 4.66 million. Yet the size of the labor force has decreased slightly, falling by 0.4 percent to 4.90 million from 4.92 million. Compared to the start of the year, 19,914 fewer North Carolinians are either employed or actively seeking working; if all those people were in the labor force and counted as unemployed, the state’s unemployment rate in July would have been 4.5 percent.

“The item in this month’s employment report apt to generate the biggest headlines is the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.1 percent, which is the lowest monthly rate posted since November 2000,” observed Quinterno. “Today’s labor market is radically different from the one of 17 years ago, largely because there is little evidence of the widespread gains in wages, incomes, and living standards generated during that earlier period—an expansionary one that would end the next year with the onset of the 2001 recession.”

Another key difference between the two periods is how much more potential labor is sitting idle today. In late 2000, some 68 of every 100 working-age North Carolinians either had a job or were actively seeking one, versus 61 of every 100 today. Similarly, 65 percent of all working-age North Carolinians had a job in late 2000, as opposed to 59 percent today. While some of the decline is tied to demographic changes, weaker economic conditions also likely are contributing. Alarmingly, both of these important indicators have been trending downward.

“So far in 2017, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest one recorded in 17 years despite a slowdown in job creation,” said Quinterno. “While the low unemployment rate seems promising, the underlying dynamics are much less so, which explains why seemingly low rates of unemployment are not occurring alongside gains in wages, incomes, and living standards.”

“Even more troubling is the fact that North Carolina’s weak recovery appears to have slowed in 2017. If the national economy tips into a recession in the next several months, North Carolina will enter that recession having never truly recovered from the prior one.”

08.08.2017 News Releases, Policy Points

Ideas Sought For New Training Courses


CHAPEL HILL, NC (August 8, 2017) 
– Public, nonprofit, philanthropic, and media organizations today have instant access to massive amounts of raw data and the computing power needed to analyze them. They are challenged, however, to make sense of a seemingly contradictory flood of facts, identify the key ones, and communicate them effectively.

In response, South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy, is developing a set of training courses focused on the use of public demographic, economic, and social data. Courses will be tailored to the needs of mission-driven organizations.

To help shape this initiative, interested individuals kindly are asked to complete an anonymous 5-minute survey about organizational training needs related to public data.

Click here to access the survey, or paste the following link into a web browser: https://goo.gl/forms/VOZZ0JmX2jF32qCt2

Thank you for your input.

08.05.2017 News Releases, Our Projects, Policy Points

Opportunity Gaps In The Research Triangle

In early 2017, South by North Strategies, Ltd. joined with the program and communications professionals at the Triangle Community Foundation to prepare a series of county-level snapshots that documented differences in educational, economic, demographic, and social conditions within each of the four counties that constitute North Carolina’s Research Triangle.

Click on the following links to see the profiles for each of Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake counties, or view a composite file with all four snapshots below.

 

07.21.2017 News Releases, Policy Points

NC’s Unemployment Rate Falls to 4.2%

CHAPEL HILL, NC (July 21, 2017) – In June 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 12,600 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent), due primarily to net hiring in the public sector. 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 4.2 percent, the lowest figure since late 2000.

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 turned in a relatively solid performance for the second month in a row,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “As has been the case throughout 2017, the top-level labor market indicators for June offered a more positive view of current conditions than is supported by the underlying dynamics, which actually point to a more complex situation.”

Between May 2017 and June 2017, North Carolina employers added 12,600 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 3,500 positions (+0.1 percent), and public-sector payrolls netted 9,100 jobs (+1.2 percent), due mainly to hiring at the local level. Within private industry, the education and health services sector netted the most jobs (+4,300, +0.7 percent), followed by the professional and business services sector (+3,100, +0.5 percent) and the leisure and hospitality services sector (+1,500, +0.3 percent). The construction sector, meanwhile, shed 2,200 more positions than it added (-1.1 percent).

Since North Carolina’s labor market recovery began in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 6,400 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 565,500 positions (+14.7%) since the worst point of the last recession. Today, the state has 4.4 million payroll jobs, up from 3.8 million in February 2010. Yet even with that gain, North Carolina has just 238,700 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.7 percent).

“Despite the positive data for June, job growth in North Carolina has slowed in 2017,” noted Quinterno. “The state has netted just 24,000 payroll jobs so far this year, as compared to an average of 46,000 jobs at the same point in each of the last three years.”

Somewhat confusingly, the household survey so far in 2017 has been offering a more positive view of the state’s labor market than has the payroll survey. Since the year’s start, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.2 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 208,051 from 256,852 (-19 percent). For context, the rate in February 2010 was 11.3 percent, with the number of unemployed individuals totaling 522,896.

Also in 2017, the number of employed persons has risen by 0.8 percent, climbing to 4.71 million from 4.66 million. Yet the size of the labor force has decreased slightly, falling by 0.2 percent to 4.91 million from 4.92 million. Compared to when the recovery began in February 2010, some 292,000 more people (+6.3 percent) now are employed or actively seeking work.

“What is sure to generate the most attention in this month’s report is the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.2 percent, which is the lowest monthly rate posted since late 2000,” observed Quinterno. “Despite similar rates of unemployment, today’s labor market arguably is worse than the one from 17 years ago, largely because there is little evidence of the kinds of widespread gains in wages, incomes, and living standards that characterized the earlier era. Additionally, the 4.1 percent rate posted in November 2000 was part of a rising trend of worsening unemployment rates that would lead into a recession the following year.”

Another difference between the two periods is found in various measures of labor utilization. In late 2000, approximately 68 of every 100 working-age North Carolinians either had a job or were actively seeking one, as compared to 61 of every 100 today. Similarly, some 65% of all working-age North Carolinians had a job in late 2000, as opposed to 59% today. While some of the decline likely is tied to demographic changes, weaker economic conditions also likely are contributing.

“During the first half of 2017, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest one recorded in almost 17 years even though job growth has slowed compared to recent years,” explained Quinterno. “This combination helps to explain why North Carolina is not experiencing the growth in wages, incomes, and living standards typically associated with such low rates of unemployment.”

06.16.2017 News Releases, Policy Points

NC’s Unemployment Rate Falls To 4.5% In May

Chapel Hill, NC (June 16, 2017) — In May 2017, employers in North Carolina collectively added 18,800 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.4 percent), with net gains in the private sector slightly offset by net losses in the public sector. 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 4.5 percent, the lowest figure since early 2001.

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 turned in its best performance of this year in May,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “One comparatively strong month unfortunately doesn’t change the fact that overall job growth in North Carolina has slowed appreciably during 2017.”

Between April 2017 and May 2017, North Carolina employers added 18,800 more payroll jobs than they cut (+0.4 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 19,300 positions (+0.5 percent), but public-sector payrolls shed, on net, 500 jobs (-0.1 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services sector netted the most jobs (+9,600, +1.5 percent), followed by the construction (+3,300, +1.7 percent) and manufacturing (+1,900, +0.4 percent) sectors.

Since North Carolina’s labor market recovery began in February 2010, the state has netted an average of 6,400 jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 556,500 positions (+14.5%) since the worst point of the last recession. Today, the state has 4.4 million payroll jobs, up from 3.8 million in February 2010. Yet even with that gain, North Carolina has just 229,700 more payroll jobs than it did when the recession began in December 2007 (+5.5 percent).

“Despite the positive data for May, job growth in North Carolina has slowed in 2017,” noted Quinterno. “The state has netted just 15,200 payroll jobs so far this year, as compared to approximately 40,000 jobs at the same point in the calendar in both 2016 and 2015.”

Somewhat confusingly, the household survey so far in 2017 has been offering a more positive view of the state’s labor market than has the payroll survey. Since the year’s start, the unemployment rate has fallen to 4.5 percent from 5.2 percent, with the number of unemployed persons declining to 222,989 from 256,852 (-13.2 percent). For context, the rate in February 2010 was 11.3 percent, with the number of unemployed individuals totaling 522,896.

Also in 2017, the number of employed persons has risen by 0.9 percent, climbing to 4.71 million from 4.66 million. Meanwhile, the size of the labor force has increased slightly, growing by 0.2 percent to 4.93 million from 4.92 million. Compared to when the recovery began in February 2010, some 311,000 more people (+6.7 percent) now are employed or actively seeking work.

“What is sure to generate the most attention in this month’s report is the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.5 percent, which is the lowest monthly rate posted since early 2001,” observed Quinterno. “Despite similar rates of unemployment, today’s labor market arguably is worse than the one from 16 years ago, largely because there is little evidence of the kinds of widespread gains in wages, incomes, and living standards that characterized the earlier era.”

Another difference between the two periods is found in various measures of labor utilization. In early 2001, approximately 68 of every 100 working-age North Carolinians either had a job or were actively seeking one, as compared to 62 of every 100 today. Similarly, some 65% of all working-age North Carolinians had a job in early 2001, as opposed to 59% today. While some of the decline likely is tied to demographic changes, weaker economic conditions also likely are contributing. To the extent that poor prospects depress labor utilization rates, joblessness will be more pronounced than is reflected in the official unemployment rate.

“So far in 2017, North Carolina’s labor market has been of two minds,” explained Quinterno. “The unemployment rate has fallen to a remarkably low level despite a relative lack of payroll job growth. Even though North Carolina has a low rate of unemployment, the state is not experiencing the benefits typically associated with that environment; namely, improvements in wages, incomes and living standards.”