Labor force decline still driving drop in unemployment for many metro areas
RALEIGH (April 29, 2014) — Despite falling unemployment rates, most of North Carolina’s metro areas are still waiting for meaningful job creation, according to new jobless numbers released by the Division of Employment Security this morning. Nine out of the state’s 14 metros saw weaker job creation over the last year than they did over the same period in previous years. In 7 of 14 of the state’s metro areas, the drop in the unemployment rate between March 2013 and March 2014 was driven by a shrinking labor force and not by large-scale employment growth.
“Too many of North Carolina’s metro areas are waiting for a jobs recovery. The labor force is continuing to shrink and job creation remains anemic across the state,” said Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “If we were truly seeing a robust recovery, every metro area would be creating more jobs each year than they did the year before, but this is just not the case. Too many metros have yet to recover the jobs they lost during the recession.”
Several examples include:
- Although Winston-Salem saw its unemployment rate drop from 7.8 to 6.1, only 6 percent of the drop in unemployed people over the past year came from those workers moving into jobs. The other 94 percent simply dropped out of the labor force altogether. Winston-Salem experienced no net job creation over the last year, its worst performance since 2011.
- In Greensboro, fewer than 13 out of every 100 formerly unemployed workers moved into jobs last year, despite seeing its unemployment rate fall by 2 full percentage points. The other 77-out-of-100 simply dropped out of the labor force altogether. Greensboro also gained just 1,200 jobs since last March, the weakest job performance of any year since 2010.
- In Fayetteville, the unemployment rate fell from 8.8 in March 2013 to 7.5 in March 2014. The metros saw both the number of employed people and the labor force go down—meaning that 0 percent of the falling unemployment rate can be attributed to the unemployed moving into jobs. They just dropped out of the labor force, likely due to lack of available jobs. Fayetteville actually lost 100 jobs over the last year, and now has fewer jobs than in March 2011.
- Even Charlotte, historically a leader in employment growth, is beginning to see its rate of job creation begin to slow. The metro created 20,700 jobs last year, less than the 21,000 jobs created last year, and the 22,700 jobs created the year before.
- Asheville created 3,800 jobs over the last year, which may sound like a lot, but it represents slower employment growth than what the metro averaged the year before.
The data released by the Division of Employment Security is subject to revision and should be interpreted with great caution.