MEDIA RELEASE: New jobs report: Unemployment ticks up while labor force continues its decline

RALEIGH (August 18, 2014) — North Carolina's economy is seeing its share of ups and downs this summer. The unemployment rate for July 2014 was at 6.5 percent—down from July 2013 but slightly up from the 6.4 percent rate in June, according to numbers released this morning by the Division of Employment Security. The labor force, which dropped by 18,000 workers, also continued its decline, pointing towards potential long-term challenges for North Carolina's labor market.

“Without sufficient job creation, North Carolina will continue to see declines in the labor force even as the working age population grows," said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. "This is a troubling trend for the state’s long-term competitiveness as workers are essential to the state’s productivity and as consumers support spending in local communities.”

Job growth, while occurring, is insufficient to ensure that the state’s growing working age population has employment opportunities. North Carolina has still not replaced the nearly 300,000 jobs lost during the Great Recession. In fact, the state’s job creation over the year (2.1 percent) is not significantly different than that for the nation (1.9 percent) over the same period. The state’s jobs deficit also remains high at 470,000, and at the current annual rate of job creation will require five years to close.

Loss year over year in government jobs is holding down overall employment gains demonstrating the very real connection that public sector employment has to the health of the economy. These workers, like private sector workers, spend in their communities, provide vital services, and are able to build assets that can stabilize communities.

"We are now almost five years away from the formal end of the Great Recession," Sirota said. "Five years after the 2001 recession, North Carolina was creating jobs much more quickly, with an average of more than 150,000 jobs created each year. Compare that to the 89,000 jobs created in the past year and we should all be concerned that what job growth is occurring is not robust."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, alexandra@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).
 

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