The North Carolina GOP released a press release this week touting August job announcement figures as indicative of the success of their policy choices that have cut taxes for the wealthy and profitable corporations, put our natural resources at risk and reduced support for the tools like unemployment insurance and job training for people who have lost their jobs.
Set aside that once again there has been no causal relationship proven through the simple statement of job growth occurring. It remains important to evaluate these statements against what we know.
First, the job announcements in August have not materialized into jobs just yet. From time to time, there are announcements that don’t end up turning into actual jobs, despite best efforts. Moreover, it is unclear how many of the jobs will go to current North Carolina residents and how many will go to those relocating from other states. The August jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics will be released on Sept. 15.
Second, North Carolina’s job growth year over year continues to be on par with national job growth. From June 2016 to June 2017, North Carolina’s employment grew by 1.7 percent, while the nation’s grew by 1.6 percent. This suggests that North Carolina’s policy choices are not driving differences in employment growth but instead that the state is finally growing in step with the nation.
Finally and most importantly, this job growth is insufficient to achieve pre-Recession levels of employment. Each month North Carolina would have to create 16,000 jobs to make progress towards that employment level in the face of a growing population.
Three thousand may get us a fifth of the way there, if they materialize. But we’d like to see a press release on what their plan is to actually boost employment for those who continue to face too few job opportunities in their community, need retraining for new industries, and experience other barriers to employment. Because tax cuts just make it more difficult to close the jobs gap in North Carolina that persists eight years after the national recovery began.
Alexandra Sirota is the Director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center.