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Crossposted from Prosperity Watch.

According to new labor market data for released by the Division of Employment Security for February, North Carolina’s economy continues to improve but still faces a long up-hill climb to replace the jobs lost in the Great Recession and to meet the demands of population growth. On the positive side, the unemployment rate dropped for the fifth straight month, from 10.2 percent to 9.9 percent in February. Additionally, labor force participation, a key measure of prime-age workers either currently employed or actively seeking employment, grew by 5,000 in February, following a 17,000 increase in the number of employed workers over the same period. Given that the percentage of the population currently employed improved from 55.6% to 56.7% in February, these data points suggest that the drop in the unemployment rate is genuinely reflecting higher employment in the labor market, and not simply discouraged workers dropping out of the labor force.

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Cross-posted on Prosperity Watch

The good news from yesterday’s labor-market data release from the NC Division of Employment Security is that the state’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically from 10.4 percent in October to 10.0 percent in November.

The bad news? North Carolina still faces a jobs deficit of more than 500,000 jobs to get back to pre-recession employment levels (see chart below).

North Carolina’s jobs deficit includes the number of jobs lost since the start of the recession (295,000 jobs) plus the number of jobs needed to keep pace with the state’s population growth (214,500 jobs).

Although the monthly household survey indicated a month-over-month employment increase of nearly 13,000, the survey of business establishments showed a much smaller increase of only 3,800 jobs. In either case, the state’s economy is falling short of creating the number of jobs necessary for the state to reach pre-recession employment levels within three years (16,000 new jobs per month).

Over the past year, North Carolina’s economy has added fewer than 20,000 new jobs.

 

 

Cross-posted on Prosperity Watch

The big labor market news in North Carolina last month was the increase in the state’s unemployment rate to a 15-month high of 10.5%. As devastating as it is for more than one in ten North Carolina job seekers to be out of work, even this statistic masks the true depth of the jobs crisis in the state.

In addition to the monthly unemployment rate, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics also publishes a broader measure of un- and under-employment that provides a fuller representation of the plight of workers. This measure (published as the “U-6 measure of labor underutilization”) includes not only individuals actively seeking work but also includes involuntary part-time workers and individuals classified as “marginally attached” to the labor force (i.e. individuals having sought work in the past twelve months but not in the past four weeks ).

This U-6 measure, illustrated in green in the chart below, shows that nearly one in five workers in North Carolina want, but have been unable to secure, full-time employment. Prior to the recession, only one in twelve North Carolina workers had been unable to secure full-time employment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Crossposted on Prosperity Watch.

Defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth in gross state product (GSP), recessions generally follow a well-established pattern: gross domestic product begins to shrink, firms lay off workers, the unemployment rate spikes and then begins to return to normal, as companies consolidate their operations and begin to rehire workers. An economic recovery then ensues, coupled with employment growth in the labor market. This is the pattern followed by each of the last four recessions, with the notable exception of the most recent downturn, which began in 2007.

As the chart below indicates, Read More