MEDIA RELEASE: Jobs recovery still waiting to happen in many North Carolina metros

Drop in unemployment rate driven by workers dropping out of the labor force

RALEIGH (April 9, 2014)—Despite falling unemployment rates, most of North Carolina’s metro areas are still waiting for meaningful job creation, according to new jobless numbers released by the Division of Employment Security this morning.

In 11 of 14 of the state’s metro areas, the drop in the unemployment rate between February 2013 and February 2014 was driven by a shrinking labor force and not by large-scale employment growth. In half of the state’s metros, fewer jobs were created from February 2013 to February 2014 than during the year before. And in four metros, fewer people were employed in February 2014 than in February 2013.

“Too many of North Carolina’s metro areas are waiting for a jobs recovery. We’re basically seeing the unemployed moving out of the labor force altogether, rather than into jobs, largely because there are just not enough available job openings,” said Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “If our metros were truly seeing big improvements in unemployment, we would expect to see the number of employed people grow by the same amount that the number of unemployed people goes down. But we don’t, because the labor force is also dropping.”

Several examples include:

  • Historically a leader in job creation since the recession, Durham-Chapel Hill moved in the wrong direction over the last year, losing 2.3 percent of its labor force and seeing the number of employed people actually shrink. At the same time, the metro created just 4,700 jobs since last February, the weakest record of job growth since 2010.
  • Although Winston-Salem saw its unemployment rate drop from 8.8 to 6.1, only 15 percent of the drop in unemployed people over the past year came from those workers moving into jobs. The other 85 percent simply dropped out of the labor force altogether.  Winston-Salem actually lost jobs over the last year, its worst marks on job creation since 2011.
  • In Greensboro, fewer than 2 out of every 10 formerly unemployed workers moved into jobs last year, despite seeing its unemployment rate fall by 3 points. The other eight-out-of-ten simply dropped out of the labor force altogether. Greensboro also lost jobs since last February, the weakest job performance since 2010.
  • Although Asheville saw its unemployment rate drop 2.6 points over the last year, just 40 percent of the drop in unemployed people over the past year came from those workers moving into jobs. The other 60 percent simply dropped out of the labor force altogether.  
  • In Fayetteville, the unemployment rate fell by 2.5 points since February 2013, but only 3 out of every 10 formerly unemployed workers actually moved into employment. The rest just dropped out of the labor force, likely due to lack of available jobs. Fayetteville actually lost 700 jobs over the last year, and now has fewer jobs than in February 2012.

The data released by the Division of Employment Security is subject to revision and should be interpreted with great caution.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer, allan@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615.
 

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