August Jobless Numbers: NC Metro Job Growth Spreads Unevenly


August Jobless Numbers: NC Metro Job Growth Spreads Unevenly
Wilmington, Winston-Salem Worse Off than We Thought, Says Economic Analyst
RALEIGH (Sep. 28, 2012) -- North Carolina’s job creation continued to spread unevenly across many of the state’s metro areas in August, according to newly released data from the state Division of Employment Security. But the real story is that some lagging areas may be even worse off than analysts previously believed.

While 13 out of the state’s 14 metro areas saw their unemployment rates drop over the last year, 98% of the state’s total employment growth since August 2011 occurred in just four high-growth metro areas—Charlotte-Gastonia (27%), Durham-Chapel Hill (16%), Greensboro-High Point (16%), and Raleigh-Cary (39%)—suggesting that the rest of state is just not experiencing significant job creation.

Even more troubling, the labor force numbers—the pool of workers who are either employed or looking for work—indicate that some metros may be worse than off the unemployment rate suggests. Over the past year, the labor force actually shrank in five metro areas—Hickory-Lenoir (down by 176 workers), Jacksonville (down by 234 workers), Rocky Mount (down by 28 workers), Wilmington (down by 4,180 workers, the biggest drop of any metro), and Winston-Salem (down by 2,900 workers).

Given that Winston-Salem and Wilmington both lost jobs in the last year, and that the remaining 3 metros with shrinking labor pools only experienced anemic 1-2 percent employment growth since last August, it appears that the unemployment rates for these metro areas actually understate the depth of the labor market challenges they are facing.

At the same time, the high-growth metros all have growing labor forces and growing employment.

"While the labor market is clearly experiencing some late-summer sluggishness, the longer-term concern for North Carolina involves the wide disparities in job growth across the state," said Allan Freyer, policy analyst with the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center. "The dramatic drops in the labor force in in Winston-Salem and Wilmington are of special concern, as are the impacts in non-metro areas of the state."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer, North Carolina Budget & Tax Center, 919.856.2151,