Statewide job growth North Carolina is continuing at a fast clip, with nearly 26,000 jobs added in June. The latest data show that the state now has over 130,000 more jobs than at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping North Carolina ahead of the U.S. by this measure of economic recovery. The percentage of residents working in the state remains stubbornly 1.5 percentage points lower than in the U.S. as whole, a gap that hasn’t shifted much since the Great Recession.
With continued job growth, it’s increasingly important for the state to focus on increasing access to high-quality jobs that provide people with the income they need to support themselves and their families. While wages have grown during the recovery from COVID-19, they’re not keeping up with rising prices. Nationwide, inflation has grown by 9 percent over the past year, compared with a 5 percent growth in wages.
We also know that topline jobs numbers don’t show the still uneven nature of the recovery. As of the beginning of June, research from Opportunity Insights showed that employment rates among North Carolina workers earning $29,000 a year or less were still 20 percent lower than before the pandemic. To build an economy that works for everyone, we need to ensure that North Carolina supports employment and living wages for the people who’ve been left out of the benefits of economic growth.
For charts showing the most recent labor data and COVID-19 job data, visit the NC Budget & Tax Center’s Labor Market page at ncbudget.org/labormarket.
Logan Rockefeller Harris is a senior policy analyst at the N.C. Budget & Tax Center.