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North Carolina’s unemployment rate shot up in August, as the state’s labor force continues to shrink.

The state had 6.8 percent of its labor force actively looking for jobs in August, an increase from 6.5 percent the prior month, according to the monthly jobs report released by the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division.

August’s unemployment, however, is still a big drop from the 8 percent unemployment rate North Carolina experienced a year ago, in August 2013.

The jobs report (click here to read) also show that the number of employed workers dropped by 28,666 from the prior month to 4.34 million while the state’s overall labor force (which consists of those in jobs and those looking for jobs) dropped by nearly 20,000 to 4,66 million in a month’s time.

Unemployed workers increased by more than 10,000 from July to August, but the 314,962 people looking for work in August. That’s down from a year earlier, when 372,467 North Carolinians were out of work. Read More

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Dean BakerIn case you missed it, be sure to check out the latest from one of the nation’s sharpest economists, Dr. Dean Baker on the one-year anniversary of North Carolina’s harshest-in-the-nation cuts to unemployment insurance. In a post that originally appeared on the website of Baker’s Center for Economic and Policy Research, Baker specifically takes one of North Carolina’s right-wing think tank denizens to task for his recent column in the Wall Street Journal celebrating the cuts.

As Baker notes, the local pundit is simply and plainly wrong in his contention that the cuts are responsible for a job boom in the state — or that such a boom is even occurring: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

Last week, the folks at five thirty eight, a non-partisan website dedicated to statistically robust analyses of social, political and economic phenomena led by Nate Silver, released an analysis of claims that unemployment insurance cuts at the national level have been good for the country’s economy and jobless workers.

The claims sound eerily familiar to those in North Carolina of a Carolina Comeback. But similar to those claims, the folks at five thirty eight find these national claims to lack support from available evidence.

First from their findings specific to those who have lost unemployment benefits: “Of the roughly 1.3 million Americans whose benefits disappeared with the end of the program, only about a quarter had found jobs as of March, about the same success rate as when the program was still in effect; roughly another quarter had given up searching.”

Second, jobless workers, particularly the long-term unemployed, are not moving to employment. From the article: “Only about 10 percent of the long-term unemployed find jobs each month, a metric known as the job-finding rate. Among those unemployed six months or less, the finding rate is nearly 25 percent….”

Cutting off unemployment benefits have not delivered improved job prospects for the hundreds of thousands still seeking work across the country and in North Carolina. A different approach is needed.

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The unemployed in North Carolina are in limbo once again, with the extended benefits for some of the long-term unemployment expected to dry up on Jan. 28 – less than three weeks from today.

The N.C. Division of Employment Security estimates 25,000 North Carolinians will be kicked off of their extended benefits by the end of the month, unless state officials take action in coming days to extend the federally-funded benefits past that date.

The anticipated Jan. 28 cut-off comes despite a two-month extension passed by the U.S. Congress on Dec. 23 that many thought would keep money flowing to the jobless to the end of February.

The state employment agency, known as the N.C. Employment Security Commission before being folded under the state’s commerce department, has posted a notice with limited information on its website about the cut-off .

As of December 23, Congress and the President authorized a two-month extension of emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) benefits and extended benefits. In North Carolina, the last payable week for extended benefits (EB) is expected to be January 28. Read More

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With just three weeks left before the New Year, North Carolina’s congressional delegation is feeling stepped-up pressure to pass an extension of federal unemployment benefits.

If Congress fails to extend the emergency federal unemployment insurance program before the holidays, nearly two million Americans would lose benefits. In our state, almost 70,000 North Carolinians would see their benefits expire.

On Thursday, members of the NC AFL-CIO and community activists demonstrated outside the district offices of U.S. Reps. Howard Coble and Renee Ellmers, urging them to vote in favor of the extension.

Parnell Baldwin, who was laid off from Thomas Built Buses in High Point, told reporters the weekly stipend represents a “lifeline” for his family as he continues to look for work: Read More