Figures released Monday by the Division of Employment Security show North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March falling to 6.3 percent, a slight improvement from February.
But analysts with the N.C. Budget and Tax Center note that while the state has seen its payrolls expand by 65,000 new jobs (1.6 percent) since March 2013, this represents slower job growth than the 1.7 percent rate of job creation in the nation as a whole. Here’s more from the BTC:
Not only did North Carolina underperform the rest of the nation over the last year, the state’s performance in 2013 stacks up poorly compared to its performance in previous years. Over the past year (March 2013-2014), the state created 200 fewer jobs than it did over the same period the year before (March 2012-2013), and only created 100 more jobs than were created from March 2011-2012—hardly signs of an increasing job creation trajectory.
“Given the massive jobs losses the state experienced in the Great Recession, the state needs to be creating jobs at a significantly faster rate than the rest of the nation in order to achieve escape velocity for a robust, long-term recovery in the labor market,” said Allan Freyer, a policy analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “Unfortunately, far from being a banner era of job creation, the last year was pretty disappointing from pretty much every angle—slower job growth and a falling labor force are evidence of a lagging overall economy.”
Here’s how economist John Quinterno with South by North Strategies puts the new data into context: North Carolina still has fewer payroll jobs, more unemployed residents, and a higher unemployment rate than it did 6.25 years ago:
Between March 2013 and March 2014, the number of unemployed North Carolina’s fell by 105,637 persons, but 46.8 percent of the decline was attributable to people who left the labor force entirely. If those 49,426 persons were added back to the labor force and considered unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate in March would have equaled 7.3 percent. Even if 50 percent of those individuals were added back to the labor force and considered unemployed, the statewide unemployment rate would have equaled 6.8 percent.
Declines in the statewide labor force participation rate provide additional evidence of a labor market that is not growing rapidly enough to accommodate all those who want and need work. In March, the labor force participation rate held steady at the revised February 2014 figure of 61 percent, which is the lowest monthly figure recorded at any point since 1976. Moreover, the labor force participation rate has fallen steadily since December 2012, when the rate equaled 62.7 percent.
“Despite recent declines in the statewide unemployment rate, labor market conditions in North Carolina remain underwhelming. Look beyond the important yet limited measure of the unemployment rate, and one will see labor market dynamics essentially no different from the sluggish ones that have characterized the past four years.”