Employment for high earners in NC has recovered, but hasn’t for everyone else

There are plenty of sites tracking the spread of infection during the coronavirus pandemic. Now Opportunity Insights, a group of researchers and analysts based at Harvard University, is using information from payroll firms and credit card processors that has been stripped of its personal identifying information to track spending and employment in the months of massive job losses and drastically changed habits.

According to the Economic Tracker, the employment rate in North Carolina was down 7.7% on Sept. 30 compared to January 2020. No surprise who’s hurting the most, but the tracker puts some numbers on the pain.

Employment was up 1.7% for people who make more than $60,000 a year. The employment rate was down 4.5% for middle-wage earners, defined as those making $27,000 to $60,000. For low-wage earners, those making less than $27,000, the employment rate declined 18.3%.

Employment rates have improved for all levels of earners since their April lows.

The rates are not seasonally adjusted.

Total consumer spending in North Carolina was down 1.4% for the week ending Nov. 22 compared to January 2020.  Some industries are doing better than others.

Spending on transportation was down 50%, and spending on entertainment and recreation was down 57.6%.

Spending on groceries was up 18.8% and retail spending was up 14.8%, according to the analysis.

North Carolinians are spending more time at home these days, but when we do go out, we’re spending a lot of time in parks. Total time outside the home as of  Dec. 4 was 8.6% below what it was in January. Nearly 6.6 % more time was spent in parks.

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