There’s more sobering news today on the state economy that conservative lawmakers are constantly (and, as it turns out, erroneously) touting as some kind of incredible success story. The bottom line: North Carolina continues to under-perform much of the rest of the nation in the post-Great Recession national recovery. This is new from the experts at the NC. Budget and Tax Center:
North Carolina’s economy is not creating the jobs needed to keep up with the demands of the working-age population in the state. The state unemployment rate dropped in February 2017 to 5.1 percent but remains above the national rate of 4.7 percent according to data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.
Since February 2017, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has remained higher than the national average and that gap has grown slightly from a 0.3 percentage point difference to a 0.4 percentage point difference in February.
Even after years of a national recovery, job growth in North Carolina has not been sufficient to bring more people back to the labor market and provide jobs to those who are actively looking for work.
“North Carolina’s employment levels remain below pre-recession levels” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “As the labor force grows with an improving national economy, it is critical that the state’s job growth match the growth in the working-age population and the numbers still looking for work.”
The February labor market data underscore a number of important economic realities, including:
- North Carolinians remain “missing” from the labor market: There are likely nearly 190,000 people in North Carolina that are not officially counted as unemployed but who would have been part of the labor force in earlier periods of economic growth.
- Many North Carolinians still looking for work: There were approximately 252,500 North Carolinians looking for work in February, which is up approximately 30,000 since the Great Recession started.
- Employment levels remain below historic levels: Job growth in North Carolina has not kept pace with the state’s growing population over the past several years. Approximately 59 percent of North Carolinians had a job in February, still well below what the state experienced in the 1990s and 2000s and below the immediate pre-recession level of 61.9 percent.