Yesterday, the Budget & Tax Center released a report on the number of North Carolinians who would have been working or seeking work if the Great Recession had never happened and job opportunities had remained strong over the last five years. The report highlights using this new measure the troubling trend of too few jobs and workers leaving the labor force. In addition, it pulls together compelling national research finding that most or all of the labor force decline is driven by a weak labor market. Among the key findings:
- 250,000 North Carolinians are missing from the labor force
- If those missing workers were counted as unemployed, the unemployment rate would be nearly double the official rate for February 2014.
The report comes as national economists gathered this week to push for a full employment agenda, one that would seek to expand job opportunities and bring more folks into the labor market to support a stronger economic growth trajectory. As attention nationally turns to the issue of persistent joblessness and the harm it is creating for workers and the economy, it is important for North Carolina’s policymakers to focus on good quality job creation and policies that support strong connections to the labor force for workers in a weak labor market.