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NC Budget and Tax Center

This week’s Prosperity Watch uses newly available data from the Economic Policy Institute to shed light on the experience of unemployment for different groups in North Carolina.  While the state performs better than the nation by having a lower barrier to employment for African-American and Latino workers in particular, the unemployment rate for these groups still remains far above where it was before the Great Recession started and is still greater than that for white workers. You can check out the full Prosperity Watch here.

The Economic Policy Institute data is presented in this interactive map that shows North Carolina’s better than average performance in the race to recovery for all groups but the continued need to focus public policies that would reduce barriers for workers of color in our state.

 

Commentary

In case you missed it over the weekend, Patrick Conway, the head of the economics Department at UNC Chapel Hill had an important op-ed in Raleigh’s News & Observer about the true state of the North Carolina economy. As Conway explains, the recent rosy claims of state officials and their apologists in the right-wing think tanks  are ignoring a huge, under-reported issue: 300,000 “missing” workers who have simply evaporated from the workforce. Here’s Conway:

There’s a large disconnect in perceptions of the current state of North Carolina’s labor market.

Gov. Pat McCrory stated a positive view in a recent address in Chapel Hill: “We’ve had one of the largest drops in unemployment [rates] in the country.” His more general contention was that the state’s labor-market difficulties are “being resolved” by tough choices made by his administration.

A contrary view was voiced by a recent letter-writer who said we’re still in the midst of a terrible recession.

These views seem contradictory, but it is easy to reconcile the two. McCrory ignores the 300,000 working-age adults who have dropped out of the labor force since 2010. If we assert that they’re gone, our unemployment rate is a high but acceptable 6.8 percent. If we recognize that these are productive residents who have temporarily stopped looking for work, then our unemployment rate is a terrifying 12.4 percent.

Conway goes on to say that simply ignoring these missing workers will not solve the problem: Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center

As North Carolina continues to recover from the Great Recession, growing more good-paying jobs in the state will require a skilled and educated workforce. As BTC analyst Cedric Johnson writes in the latest issue of Prosperity Watch, an increasing number of jobs are expected to require some level of postsecondary training, and meeting this workforce demand means that a growing number of the state’s public school students must exit the state’s education pipeline prepared to compete in a 21st century economy. And nowhere is this more important than among North Carolina’s lowest income public school students, a growing population that typically needs additional instructional supports to finish high school and enter the workforce fully prepared. See the latest Prosperity Watch for details.

 

Uncategorized

John Schmitt and Milla Sanes have an interesting post on the Center for Economic and Policy Research blog that debunks a bit of common wisdom about the long-term growth in inequality.

Their data show that, overall, the percentage of the workforce working part-time has remained basically stable at around 20% or so.

“Over the last three decades, as economic inequality has been climbing, the overall rate of part-time employment (the top line in the chart) has barely changed….The problem facing workers isn’t a rise in part-time work. The problem is the increasing precarity of full-time work”

In other words, Read More

NC Budget and Tax Center, The State of Working North Carolina

As shown in the recent report on the State of Working North Carolina, many families and workers across the state lost ground during the 2000s.  During this “lost decade,” workers experienced stagnant or falling wage growth, anemic job growth in the recovery from the 2001 recession, and the catastrophic job losses of the Great Recession of 2007-2009.  And in the three years since the formal end of the Great Recession, North Carolina has struggled to make up this lost ground—unemployment remains persistently high, with at least three workers for every available job opening.

In the face of this challenge, policy makers need to promote solutions that address the immediate crisis in employment and establish long-term path for building a sustainable employment base for the industries of the future.

Read More