An oversight committee at the General Assembly splashed more cold water on claims that policy decisions made in the 2013 legislative session are responsible for big improvements in the state’s economy.
In testimony before the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance Wednesday, N.C. State economist Dr. Michael Walden made the crucial point that North Carolina’s economic recovery began in 2009—long before 2013—and is largely shaped by broader national and global economic trends beyond the influence of the state’s policy makers.
According to Walden, North Carolina’s experience of business cycles has often been bumpier than the nation’s—with faster growth in recoveries and steeper falls during recessions. Over the past two business cycles, the Tarheel State saw bigger percentage job losses than did the nation as a whole during recessionary periods. As a result, the state’s employment growth since the recession ended in 2009 is still insufficient to deliver the jobs needed to provide everyone a job who is seeking work and close the state’s jobs deficit—despite seeing employment grow at a faster rate than the average.
Taken together with the fact that North Carolina created fewer jobs in 2013 than it did the year before, according to preliminary estimates from the establishment survey, these trends make it clear that the current economic recovery is neither all that special, nor can employment growth be linked to policies enacted last year.
And while the state’s labor market is clearly moving in the right direction, recent improvements are still not enough to return employment to pre-recession levels. In fact, at the current rate of job creation holding all else constant, it will take 13 years to replace the jobs lost during the Great Recession and keep up with population growth.
Given this reality, it’s clear that policy makers are just plain wrong when they claim that the policies they enacted in 2013 are responsible for an economic turnaround in North Carolina.