MEDIA RELEASE: Local unemployment numbers offer mixed news for NC metro areas

Fayetteville, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem still lagging, while Goldsboro and Jacksonville experience surprising growth

RALEIGH (January 30, 2013) – Today’s jobs report from the Employment Security Division shows sluggish but positive momentum in job creation across most of North Carolina. At the same time, however, a handful of metros are lagging behind the rest of the state.

The unemployment has dropped in 93 counties and all 14 metro areas since December 2011. Despite this good news, five metros are continuing lagging behind the rest of the state in terms of job creation over the last year. While the state experienced 2.2 percent employment growth since December 2011, these five metros experienced less than the state average:  Winston-Salem (0.9 percent job growth), Wilmington (0.9 percent job growth), Fayetteville (1.2 percent job growth), Greenville, (1.7 percent job growth), and Asheville (1.9 percent job growth)  

Unfortunately, these metros may be struggling even more than these the unemployment rates suggest, due to the long-term trends in their labor force—the pool of workers who are either employed or looking for work. In all three metros, the labor force grew at a slower pace than the 1.4 percent statewide average and much more slowly than the metros experiencing the greatest employment growth—metros like Goldsboro and Jacksonville which experienced more than three percent growth in both the labor force and employment.

In Fayetteville, the labor force grew by just 1.1 percent, and even more troublingly, the labor force essentially remained stagnant in Wilmington (which grew by just 0.2 percent) and Winston-Salem (which saw just 0.1 percent growth in the labor force).  Similarly, Greenville and Asheville have experienced seen their labor forces grow by 1.2 percent, suggesting that too many unemployed workers are giving up on finding work and dropping out the workforce altogether.

“While the labor market is clearly continuing to improve, the longer-term concern for North Carolina is the wide disparities in job growth across the state,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.  “The ongoing stagnation in the labor force in Winston-Salem and Wilmington are of special concern.” 

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Allan Freyer,, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications,, 503.551.3615 (cell).