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United Van Lines

Image: www.unitedvanlines.com

Politicians love to take credit for good things that happen while they are in office — whether they bear any real responsibility or not. As reported in this morning’s edition of the Weekly Briefing, North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, of all people, is even taking credit for the state’s falling unemployment rate and high rating in Site Selection magazine. As noted in the same space last month, however, the truth of such matters is a lot less clear cut:

“Except in times of profound crisis when extraordinary powers may occasionally be conferred, it is extremely rare that a political leader can do much more than make gradual tweaks and adjustments that will bear fruit (or not, as the case may be) somewhere down the road.

Meanwhile, the trends so busily tracked and catalogued by analysts each month – jobs, unemployment, incomes, retail sales, corporate profits and the like – are just as likely to be the byproduct of decades-long patterns (e.g. the exportation of jobs overseas and the evolution of the Internet) or recent unforeseen events (e.g. bad weather, a failed crop or a new invention) as they are of comparatively recent public policies like a new tax cut or a business incentive.”

New confirmation of this complex reality comes in the latest household moving numbers from United Van Lines. According to the just released annual study, North Carolina ranked Number 3 nationally of “top destination states.” Read More

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jobseconomyThis is new from the experts at the N.C. Budget and Tax Center:

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. Read More

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Minimum wage 2(Cross-posted from Off the Charts – the blog of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.)

Raising the minimum wage would help the economy, CBPP Senior Fellow Jared Bernstein writes in the latest edition of the CQ Researcher.

Two well-established facts help back up this argument, Bernstein says:

The first fact is that the American economy is made up of 70 percent consumer spending.

Economists widely agree that an extra dollar earned by a wealthy person is less likely to be spent than an extra dollar earned by a low-income person….

The second fact Read More

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Sharon DeckerYou gotta’ hand it to state Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker for one thing: she continues to be the one McCrory administration official who will occasionally admit a problem and not directly blame the Perdue administration for its existence. She also frequently doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but at least she occasionally seems sincere.

This past summer, she  said that the controversial legislative session and the protests it spawned was making it tough to sell the state to potentially relocating businesses. Now, this week, as several news outlets have reported, she’s admitted that North Carolina’s “skills gap” is a problem when wooing businesses looking for highly-educated workers.

Funny, that sounds an awful lot like what progressives and McCrory administration critics have been saying all along — namely that the key to solving our economic problems lies not in slashing taxes but in investing in our kids and workersRead More

NC Budget and Tax Center

During yesterday’s press conference announcing the latest tax cut package proposed by the General Assembly and Governor McCrory, we heard a lot about the need for North Carolina’s economy to become competitive again as justification for their plans to steeply reduce tax rates on corporations and wealthy individuals.

But the evidence just keeps piling up that North Carolina’s economy is already competitive—regardless of the Tarheel State’s personal and corporate income tax rates. In the latest piece of news from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, it turns out that North Carolina experienced some the fastest economic growth in the nation in 2012, as measured by the annual change in real per capita Gross Domestic Product—a clear sign that our state is far more economically competitive than our legislative leaders try to pretend.

By the numbers, here’s how North Carolina’s economic growth stacks up to other states:

  • North Carolina’s economy is one of the most competitive in the nation, growing by 1.76 percent last year, above the national average of 1.7 and faster than 32 other states.
  • North Carolina’s growth rate is competitive in the Southeast, fully half a percentage point above the regional average.
  • North Carolina’s growth rate ranked fifth out of 13 Southern states last year, outpaced only by Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and South Carolina. All of these states have lower median wages and higher poverty rates according to the Census Bureau than North Carolina, suggesting that whatever factors that are spurring their economic growth is not benefitting working families.

If North Carolina’s economy was uncompetitive as Governor McCrory and our legislative leaders contend, it’s hard to see it in how our state stacks up in terms of economic growth.