08.10.2016 News Releases, Our Projects, Policy Points

Few Signs Of A “Carolina Comeback”

CHAPEL HILL, NC (August 10, 2016) – Today, Think NC First, a nonprofit organization based in Raleigh, released a set of four issue briefs questioning the claim of a “Carolina Comeback.” While the refrain is often repeated by Gov. McCrory and his supporters, the reality facing most North Carolina families is much different.

According to the briefs’ author, John Quinterno of South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm in Chapel Hill, stagnant wages, falling household incomes, subpar economic growth and a jobs gap make North Carolina’s economic recovery more like a distant dream for many Tar Heel households.

“Proponents of the ‘Carolina Comeback’ are fond of listing impressive-sounding statistics without providing the context needed to compare current conditions to pre-recessionary ones or to gauge whether the recovery is meeting the state’s needs,” said Quinterno. “When that missing context is provided, it becomes clear that the recovery has bypassed most North Carolinians, who on any number of indicators are worse off now than when the recession started in 2007.”

The briefs also detail the extent to which the recovery has bypassed most segments of North Carolina’s population, irrespective of race, ethnicity, education, and place. The result is a state increasingly defined by striking economic hardships and widening inequalities.

The series of issue briefs is designed as reference documents for editors, reporters and thought-leaders. Each brief covers a specific economic issue and uses public statistical data to explore the patterns that have unfolded since 2007, paying attention to differences between the contraction (approx. 2007-2009) and expansion (approx. 2009-present) phases of the business cycle.

Click below to download the briefs in PDF format; the briefs also are available below in one file.

Issue 1: A Growing State with Too Few Jobs
Issue 2: A Low-Wage, Low-Skill Recovery
Issue 3: Falling Household Incomes
Issue 4: Insufficient GDP Growth 

For questions about the briefs, interviews and other media requests please contact John Quinterno at johnq@sbnstrategies.com or (919) 622-2392.

 

08.03.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

Local Unemployment Rates Down Over The Year

CHAPEL HILL, NC (August 3, 2016) – From June 2015 to June 2016, unemployment rates (unadjusted) fell in all 100 North Carolina counties and in all 15 of the state’s metropolitan areas. Over the same period, the size of the local labor force grew in 60 counties and in 13 metro areas.

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

“Over the past year, many of North Carolina’s local labor markets have continued their slow recovery from the depths of the last recession,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Recent improvements, while welcome, should not obscure the extent to which many local labor markets continue to underperform almost 6.5 years into a recovery.”

Compared to December 2007, which is when the national economy fell into recession, North Carolina now has 3.9 percent more payroll jobs (+161,400). In June 2016, the state gained 19,400 more jobs than it lost (+0.5 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 488,000 payroll jobs (+12.7 percent).

Between May and June of 2016, local unemployment rates rose in 96 of the state’s 100 counties and decreased in 4 counties. Individual county rates ranged from 3.9 percent in Buncombe County to 9.2 percent in Scotland County. Overall, 1 county posted an unemployment rate greater than 8.7 percent, and 60 counties posted rates between 5.2 and 8.7 percent; 39 counties had unemployment rates between 3.9 and 5.1 percent.

“The combined June unemployment rate in North Carolina’s non-metropolitan counties was 3.9 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 2.4 percent fewer employed persons and 2.9 percent more unemployed ones. Over that time, the size of the non-metro labor force has fallen by 2.2 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.”

In early 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 revisions, 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 May and June, unemployment rates rose in all 15 of the state’s metro areas. Rocky Mount had the highest unemployment rate (7.5 percent), followed by Fayetteville (6.4 percent) and Greenville (5.9 percent). Asheville had the lowest unemployment rate (4.1 percent), followed by Raleigh-Cary (4.4 percent), and Durham-Chapel Hill (4.7 percent).

Compared to June 2015, unemployment rates in June 2016 were lower in all 100 counties and in all 15 metro areas. Over the year, meanwhile, labor force sizes increased in 60 counties and in 13 metros. The statewide labor force (unadjusted), meanwhile, was 1.1 percent larger in June 2016 than it was in June 2015.

The bulk of the year-over-year growth in the size of the state’s labor force occurred in the state’s metro areas, which collectively grew by 2.1 percent. Among individual metros, Raleigh’s labor force grew at the fastest rate (+4.1 percent) over the course of the year, followed by Charlotte (+3.4 percent) and Wilmington (+2.5 percent). Decreases in labor force sizes occurred in Burlington (-0.8 percent) and Rocky Mount (-1.2 percent).

With those changes, metro areas now are home to 78.2 percent of the state’s labor force, with 56.5 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 13.8 percent since December 2007; the combined unemployment rate in June 2016 totaled 4.8 percent, versus 4.5 percent in December 2007. These regions also were responsible for the vast majority of the employment growth that occurred over the year.

Of the three broad regions, the Research Triangle had the lowest unemployment rate (4.7 percent), followed by Charlotte (5 percent) and the Piedmont Triad (5.1 percent).

“Many local labor markets in North Carolina have experienced growth during the ongoing recovery, but those gains have come came at a very leisurely pace,” said Quinterno. “Many of the improvements have been 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 now almost 6.5 years old.”

06.17.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

No Net Job Growth For Second Straight Month

CHAPEL HILL, NC (June 17, 2016) – In May, employers in North Carolina effectively added no more payroll jobs than they cut, as slight job losses in the private sector were offset by gains in the public sector. May further was the second straight month with effectively no net job growth in the state. Over the year, North Carolina gained 78,100 more payroll jobs than it lost, due primarily to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.1 percent in May was lower than in April, and it was 0.7 percentage points lower than it had been a year earlier.

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

“North Carolina has experienced relatively little job growth so far in 2016,” said John Quinterno, a principal with South by North Strategies, Ltd., a research firm specializing in economic and social policy. “Since the beginning of the year, the state has added just 32,700 more jobs than it has lost, with effectively no net job growth having occurred in three of the last four months.”

Between April 2016 and May 2016, North Carolina employers shed 1,600 more jobs than they cut (-0.1 percent). Private-sector payrolls cut, on net, 3,800 positions (-0.1 percent), with public sector payrolls expanding by 2,200 positions (+0.3 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services shed, on net, the most payroll jobs (-3,500, -0.6 percent), followed by the construction sector (-2,700, -1.4 percent) and the financial activities sector (-2,500, -1.1 percent). The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, added, on net, 2,700 jobs (+0.6 percent), followed by the education and health services sector (+2,600, +0.4 percent).

A revision to the April payroll data found that the state lost rather than gained jobs (-1,600 versus an original estimate of +1,000 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 139,900 more payroll positions (+3.4 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 466,500 positions (+12.1 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 78,100 more jobs than they cut (+1.8 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 75,700 positions (+2.2 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 2,400 jobs (+0.3 percent). Within private industry, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector netted the most jobs (+23,700, +3 percent), followed by the professional and business services sector (+23,200, +4 percent) and the leisure and hospitality services sector (+12,900, +2.8 percent).

“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. And the state’s modest rate of progress actually has slowed during the first five months of 2016.”

The monthly household data for May offered a different view of the labor market. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.1 percent was down from the 5.4 percent rate in April. While the May unemployment rate was the lowest one logged since early 2008, it still was slightly above the pre-recessionary rate of 5 percent posted in December 2007.

Between April and May, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 13,589 persons (-5.1 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 6,870 (+0.1 percent). Over that period, the size of the statewide labor force shrank by 6,719 persons (-0.1 percent).

Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians dropping by 25,278 persons (-9.2 percent) to a total of 250,544. During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 142,023 individuals (+3.2 percent) to 4,618,342, and the size of the labor force increased by 116,745 persons (+2.5 percent), reaching a total size of 4,868,886 persons.

Other improvements recorded between May 2015 and May 2016 include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 61.8 percent from 61.1 percent and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed to 58.6 percent from 57.6 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 has improved noticeably since the worst part of the ‘Great Recession,’ but the pace of job growth, especially so far in 2016, is too modest to accommodate all those who want work,” said Quinterno. “Labor market conditions also are too weak to generate meaningful improvements in wages, incomes, and material living standards.”

05.20.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

NC Netted Virtually No Payroll Jobs in April

CHAPEL HILL, NC (May 20, 2016) – In April, employers in North Carolina effectively added no more payroll jobs than they cut, as slight job gains in the private sector were offset by losses in the public sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 95,600 more payroll jobs than it lost, due chiefly to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in April was slightly lower than in March, and it was 0.4 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.

“So far in 2016, North Carolina has gained 36,500 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 2015 was a gain of 25,100 jobs, and the 2014 gain was 27,800 jobs. Even with the gains logged so far in 2016, North Carolina has just 143,700 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.

Between March 2016 and April 2016, North Carolina employers added 1,000 more jobs than they cut (+/ 0.0 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 3,100 positions (+0.1 percent), with public sector payrolls contracting by 2,100 positions (-0.3 percent). Within private industry, the professional and business services netted the most payroll jobs (+4,100, +0.7 percent), followed by the information sector (+1,300, +1.7 percent). The manufacturing sector, meanwhile, shed, on net, 2,700 jobs (-0.6 percent).

A revision to the March payroll data found that the state gained more jobs than first reported (+14,300 versus an original estimate of +12,500 jobs). With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 143,700 more payroll positions (+3.5 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,400 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 470,300 positions (+12.2 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 95,600 more jobs than they cut (+2.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 94,900 positions (+2.7 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 700 jobs (+0.1 percent). Within private industry, most every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+29,700, +5.1 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities (+25,100, +3.2 percent) and leisure and hospitality services (+17,500, +3.8 percent) sectors.

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 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.”

The monthly household data for April contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate was 5.4 percent, down slightly from the 5.5 percent logged in March. Between March and April, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 1,357 persons (-0.5 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 20,245 (+0.4 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 18,888 persons (+0.4 percent).

Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians falling by 10,571 persons (-3.8 percent) to a total of 264,491. During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 141,785 individuals (+3.2 percent) to 4,611,868, and the size of the labor force increased by 131,214 persons (+2.8 percent), reaching a total size of 4,876,359 persons.

Even though North Carolina’s statewide unemployment rate has fallen from the high of 11.3 percent reached in early 2010, the current rate of 5.4 percent remains above the pre-recessionary one of 5 percent. The fact that the unemployment rate has not returned to the pre-recessionary figure after 100 months is a troubling reality, for in no other recent recession has North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained elevated for so long.

Other improvements recorded between April 2015 and April 2016 include a rise in the share of working-age North Carolinians participating in the labor market to 62 percent from 61.1 percent and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed to 58.6 percent from 57.5 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. “The pace basically is sufficient to accommodate the growth in the size of the state’s labor force, yet it is not rapid enough to eliminate the large job gap remaining from the last recession.”

04.15.2016 News Releases, Policy Points

North Carolina’s Slow Recovery Continues

CHAPEL HILL, NC (April 15, 2016) – In March, employers in North Carolina added 12,500 more payroll jobs than they cut, with job gains in the private sector offset by job losses in the public sector. Over the year, North Carolina gained 104,300 more payroll jobs than it lost, due mainly to private-sector growth. The statewide unemployment rate of 5.5 percent in March was unchanged from February, and it was 0.3 percentage points lower than it was a year earlier.

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

“During the first quarter of 2016, North Carolina gained 33,700 more payroll jobs than it 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 2015 was a gain of 13,600 jobs. Even with the gains logged recently, North Carolina has just 140,900 more jobs than it did at the end of 2007.”

Between February 2016 and March 2016, North Carolina employers added 12,500 more jobs than they cut (+0.3 percent). Private-sector payrolls netted 14,000 positions (+0.4 percent), with public sector payrolls contracting by 1,500 positions (-0.2 percent). Within private industry, the trade, transportation, and utilities sector netted the most payroll jobs (+6,600, +0.8 percent), followed by the professional and business services (+3,900, +0.6 percent) and the education and health services sector (+3,000, +0.5 percent).

A revision to the February payroll data found that the total payroll level was effectively unchanged from the January figure. With that revision, North Carolina now has, on net, 140,900 more payroll positions (+3.4 percent) than it did in December 2007. Since bottoming out in February 2010, the state’s labor market has netted an average of 6,400 payroll jobs per month, resulting in a cumulative gain of 467,500 positions (+12.2 percent).

Over the year, North Carolina employers added 104,300 more jobs than they cut (+2.5 percent). Private-sector payrolls gained, on net, 100,600 positions (+2.9 percent), while public-sector payrolls added, on net, 3,700 jobs (+0.5 percent). Within private industry, most every major industrial sector netted payroll jobs, with the professional and business services sector gaining the most positions (+28,400, +4.9 percent), followed by the trade, transportation, and utilities (+27,400, +3.5 percent) and leisure and hospitality services (+16,300, +3.6 percent) sectors.

“The slow-but-steady payroll growth experienced in North Carolina since 2010 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 does not have as many jobs as it needs.”

The monthly household data for March contained some positive news about the state’s labor market. The statewide unemployment rate in March was 5.5 percent, which was unchanged from the rate logged in February. Between February and March, the number of unemployed North Carolinians decreased by 131 persons (-0.1 percent), while the number of employed persons rose by 34,284 (+0.8 percent). Over that same period, the size of the statewide labor force grew by 34,153 persons (+0.7 percent).

Over the year, the statewide unemployment rate fell from 5.8 percent, with the number of unemployed North Carolinians falling by 7,017 persons (-2.6 percent) to a total of 265,918. During that same period, the number of employed persons rose by 128,774 individuals (+2.9 percent) to 4,591,429, and the size of the labor force increased by 121,757 persons (+2.6 percent), reaching a total size of 4,857,347 persons.

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 61.8 percent from 61 percent and in the share of working-age North Carolinians who are employed to 58.4 percent from 57.5 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. “The pace is sufficient to accommodate the growth in the size of the state’s labor force, yet it is not rapid enough to eliminate the large job gap created by the last recession.”