MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina has replaced jobs lost during the recession, but progress still needed to ensure a full recovery

RALEIGH (November 21, 2014) – North Carolina has replaced the jobs lost during the Great Recession, with employment levels approximately 15,900 higher than December 2007, according to data released today by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the Department of Commerce.  Although this key milestone is cause for celebration, far more progress is needed to ensure a full recovery of North Carolina’s labor market as there are still far too few jobs for the state’s growing working-age population.

“Declaring victory at this first key milestone in the state’s economic recovery is like finishing a marathon at mile 6,” said Alexandra Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “There are still far more miles to be run before North Carolina’s labor market is recovered and healthy.”

The state’s job deficit – the number of jobs needed to reach employment levels seen before the Great Recession while taking into account the population growth – is 440,600.  At North Carolina’s current annual rate of job creation, it will take five years to close that gap. 

Important to note is that the state’s job creation rate of 2.1 percent over the past year was roughly the same as the national job creation rate over the same period of 1.9 percent. 

Relative to pre-recession levels, various indicators suggest that North Carolina still has a long way to go in terms of a full recovery in the labor market.

  • The state’s unemployment rate is 1.3 percentage points above where it was in December 2007.
  • The number of unemployed in North Carolina remains 28 percent higher than it was in December 2007.
  • The state’s labor force grew by 2.4 percent since December 2007 but its working-age population grew far faster by 11 percent.
  • The labor force participation rate was 5 percentage points below where it was in December 2007
  • The state’s employment-to-population ratio in October 2014 at 56.5 percent remained below its December 2007 level of 62 percent. No state has reached its pre-recession employment levels.

“There continues to be no evidence that North Carolina is experiencing uniquely positive labor market outcomes as a result of policy changes,” said Sirota. “Rather the state continues to struggle to provide  employment opportunities to all who want to work and ensure the strength of the labor force.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota,, 919.423.1914; Jeff Shaw,, 503.551.3615 (cell).