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According to the latest issue of Prosperity Watch, North Carolina’s job growth has remained stubbornly stagnant over the last year, with the unemployment rate stuck between 9.6 and 9.4 since February 2012. Even more troubling, however, is the fact that what little employment growth the state has experienced since the end of the recession has largely occurred in low-wage service industries. In effect, the state is losing the middle-wage jobs that used to provide a pathway into the middle class for many North Carolinians and replacing them with jobs in industries that pay significantly below the state average—a boom in low-wage employment.  See the latest issue of Prosperity Watch for details.

Earlier this week, the N.C. Division of Employment Security released the latest jobs numbers for January, and unsurprisingly, North Carolina’s labor market is continuing to struggle. As the latest issue of Prosperity Watch makes clear, the state’s employment recovery is still lagging the national average, and despite slowly beginning to close this gap, much work remains to provide adequate employment opportunities for North Carolina’s workers.  See the latest Prosperity Watch for details.

 

As tax filing season rolls around, many North Carolina families and communities across the state will benefit from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), an important tax break designed to reward work and offset federal payroll and income taxes paid by low-wage workers.  But as the latest issue of Prosperity Watch explains, some communities rely on this credit more than other communities, since some are more economically distressed than others.  As a result, there are significant differences across the state’s counties in terms of the percentage of tax filers in each county that claim this credit, and many of the counties with the highest percentage of filers are clustered in one of the state’s poorest regions. See Prosperity Watch for details.

As the latest issue of Prosperity Watch explains, the fundamental challenge facing the state’s labor market is the absence of enough available job openings to make a meaningful dent in the state’s jobs deficit and to bring down the state’s persistently high unemployment rate. This reality has tremendous implications for the state’s unemployed workers if the benefits cuts contained in the recently-passed unemployment insurance reform bill are enacted.  See the latest issue of Prosperity Watch for details.

Today, the House Finance Committee passed a significant overhaul of the state’s unemployment insurance program that dramatically cuts the elligibility, duration, and amount of benefits for jobless workers. As the latest issue of Prosperity Watch makes clear, these reductions in jobless benefits will take effect in the midst of persistently high unemployment and at a time when unemployed workers outnumber available job openings by 3-to-1. This means that three unemployed workers are chasing every one available job, and even if every job opening is filled, there would still be two more looking for work. See the latest Prosperity Watch for details on the state’s struggling labor market.