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An important measure of a positive jobs report is whether progress is being made in creating enough jobs to recover all the jobs that were lost during the Great Recession. By this measure, however, today’s jobs report from the Division of Employment Security reveals that too many of the state’s metro areas are falling behind.

Despite falling unemployment rates, most of North Carolina’s metro areas are not creating jobs fast enough to fill this jobs hole. Five years into the current recovery, ten out of the state’s 14 metro areas have yet to reclaim the jobs lost during the recession, and it will take six of them more than a decade to create enough jobs to return to pre-recession levels at the current rate of employment growth. In one metro—Rocky Mount—it will take almost a century to get back to pre-recession employment levels at the current pace of job creation.

As long as some metros continue to lag behind, the state’s overall economic recovery will continue to struggle, despite a falling unemployment rate.

Follow me below the fold for a summary of each metro’s job creation record over the last year:

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Another month, another underwhelming jobs report for North Carolina. The Tar Heel state created fewer jobs and saw a smaller percentage of unemployed workers find employment than the rest of the nation over the last year, according to the February jobs report released by Division of Employment Security this morning.

The numbers tell a clear story: 2013 was a rough year for the state’s labor market. While the state saw 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. Even more troubling, this represents a reversal from the previous year (March 2012 to March 2013), during which North Carolina outpaced the nation in job creation 1.6 percent to 1.5 percent.

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.

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Unemployment dropped last month to 8.8 percent, the fourth straight month of decline as the nation’s economy is regaining its footing, according to seasonally-adjusted numbers released Friday by the N.C. Division of Employment Security.

Nationally, North Carolina is still lagging behind the national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent.

But the situation is far from rosy for those still looking for jobs.

In less than two weeks, the state will block 71,000 people July 1 from receiving extended unemployment benefits, federal money that was supposed to flow through the long-term unemployment through the end of the year.

North Carolina, the only state to effectively reject the federal money, is implementing a new, expansive unemployment insurance system adopted by the legislature earlier this year that will aggressively pay down $2.5 billion in debt the state took on in the height of the recession. The maximum amounts of benefits and length of time the jobless can receive benefits were slashed as part of the changes.

Previously, jobless workers could receive up to 26 weeks of benefits, but the state’s new plan will have a sliding scale of 12 to 20 weeks, based on local unemployment figures and other factors.

Denise Davis is one of those who will be cut off from benefits on July 1. Davis, of Greensboro, said she’s been out of work since last November after being laid off from her job at vitamin production plant.

The single mom of two teenagers said she’s struggled to find replacement work for her $50,000 a year job, and has applied for hundreds of jobs with no responses. Last week, she attended a job opening event at a Burger King and was one of 80 people applying for three jobs at the fast food restaurant.
She hasn’t heard back to see if she’s being considered.

“I’ve been working all my life and I got displaced from my job,”  Davis said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. How am I going to pay my mortgage?”

There will be an immediate cutoff of 71,000 people on July 1, and the numbers of those affected by the legislative changes are expected to grow in coming months, as high as 170,000 and more than $700 million in federal money that would have flowed through to jobless workers.

Budget writers could delay the start date of the changes, and allow the federal money to flow through, but there’s been no indication from Republican legislative leaders or Gov. Pat McCrory that will happen.

Mecklenburg County has the most people affected by the July 1 cutoff, followed by Wake, Guilford (where Davis lives) and Cumberland counties.

Below is a searchable database by county of the numbers of those affected by the July 1 cutoff date.

County Name
Basic Unemployment
Extended Benefits (Subject to July 1 cut-off)
TOTALS92,81370,454
ALAMANCE1,3951013
ALEXANDER302195
ALLEGHANY6243
ANSON258221
ASHE300233
AVERY9183
BEAUFORT474401
BERTIE176194
BLADEN401312
BRUNSWICK865612
BUNCOMBE1,6301267
BURKE654504
CABARRUS1,6021124
CALDWELL719650
CAMDEN4842
CARTERET402337
CASWELL179130
CATAWBA1,6371161
CHATHAM332305
CHEROKEE167160
CHOWAN111112
CLAY7749
CLEVELAND1,083790
COLUMBUS572414
CRAVEN764640
CUMBERLAND3,3972706
CURRITUCK8997
DARE172158
DAVIDSON1,4891160
DAVIE360217
DUPLIN406361
DURHAM2,1401698
EDGECOMBE782770
FORSYTH3,2532480
FRANKLIN475394
GASTON2,1001692
GATES3932
GRAHAM98100
GRANVILLE492373
GREENE200122
GUILFORD5,1883930
HALIFAX620471
HARNETT967790
HAYWOOD399340
HENDERSON544404
HERTFORD182175
HOKE444383
HYDE3419
IREDELL1,4431140
JACKSON300161
JOHNSTON1,295921
JONES7153
LEE573546
LENOIR644462
LINCOLN784570
MCDOWELL406318
MACON392187
MADISON172102
MARTIN221259
MECKLENBURG10,0507196
MITCHELL149119
MONTGOMERY235142
MOORE642468
NASH1,169909
NEW HANOVER1,8591374
NORTHAMPTON152145
ONSLOW977793
ORANGE662414
PAMLICO8167
PASQUOTANK338321
PENDER437349
PERQUIMANS9874
PERSON500316
PITT1,7951293
POLK7762
RANDOLPH1,4721016
RICHMOND456404
ROBESON1,4811230
ROCKINGHAM987769
ROWAN1,424899
RUTHERFORD588508
SAMPSON473430
SCOTLAND464380
STANLY486417
STOKES390255
SURRY639470
SWAIN106120
TRANSYLVANIA129117
TYRRELL3541
UNION1,4351032
VANCE491438
WAKE6,8544713
WARREN155122
WASHINGTON132147
WATAUGA203182
WAYNE965824
WILKES583434
WILSON1,578855
YADKIN302258
YANCEY137113
OUT OF STATE6,1885347
UNKNOWN967308
Source: Division of Employment Security, NC Commerce Department