In touting the number of jobs created since he took office, the governor said “that’s something we need to celebrate, and that’s a goal we continue to have.” These comments prefaced the release of McCrory’s key budget proposals, which themselves reflect a Governor who is largely satisfied with the status quo.
Thing is, North Carolina’s economic track record over the last few years is not exactly sterling:
- Mediocre employment record: Since the beginning of 2013 (the comparison point that the Governor used in his remarks), North Carolina has increased employment by 7%, just ahead of the national average of 6.3%. That’s not terrible, but its not exactly world-beating either. In fact, 15 states outclassed North Carolina in job creation over the last three years. Those states include regional neighbors (South Carolina and Georgia) and states like California, Oregon, and Washington that have pursued decidedly more progressive approaches to growing the economy. As we reported earlier this week, North Carolina continued this record of middling performance over the last year, so we’re not making meaningful progress toward the top of the heap.
- Not creating enough jobs for everyone that wants to work. North Carolina is still a long way from recovering to the level of employment that existed before the Great Recession. While we have added jobs over the last several years, North Carolina’s population has also swelled, leaving us well below the level of employment that was the norm before the recession. To make up the jobs deficit, North Carolina would need roughly 400,000 more jobs that exist today. Preparing for future growth and ensuring everyone can get connected to work will require far more robust job creation over the next few years.
- Wages for the median worker continue to fall. Since 2009 when the national economic expansion officially began, wages for the worker in the middle of the earnings distribution have fallen by 4 percent. As SEANC has pointed out, state employees pay overall has fallen behind the cost of living by almost 9 percent since 2010. And while the Governor’s desire to push average teachers pay to $50,000 is good, it could still leave many teachers working a second job to cover the basic costs of living.
This middling economic record becomes particularly alarming given that the Governor is essentially promising more of the same. Three years of economic data say that the Governor’s economic policies have not produced economic leadership. Let’s hope we get more of a commitment to build an economy that works for everyone from the General Assembly.