MEDIA RELEASE: Unemployment rate stubbornly high, driven by lack of available job openings

Unemployed workers outnumber available jobs by nearly 3 to 1

RALEIGH (January 18, 2013) – North Carolina’s jobless rate climbed to 9.2 percent in December, according to new data released by the Division of Employment Security today, driven in large part by lack of available job openings.

Although the long-term trend of the state’s unemployment picture is moving in the right direction—the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 10.4 percent in December 2011—the rate of job growth in the state still remains stubbornly sluggish.

In fact, the state’s jobs deficit—the number of jobs that need to be created in order to replace the employment lost in the Great Recession and to keep up with the state’s 8.3% population growth—has continued to remain high, now standing in excess of 520,000 jobs.

This indicates that the real problem facing our labor market’s recovery is the fundamental lack of available jobs for workers looking for employment. In fact, there are almost 3 unemployed workers for every one available job opening in the South, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This job-seeker rate is not out of line with North Carolina’s.

“Given sluggish long-term job creation and our state’s continuing struggle to replace recession-era job losses, it’s time to come to grips with the fundamental challenge facing North Carolina’s labor market—the fact that there are too many unemployed workers chasing too few job openings,” said Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.

“Training certainly matters for the long-term, but the immediate problem is lack of available job openings,” Freyer added. “While we all hear anecdotal stories about jobs going unfilled due to lack of skilled workforce, we’ve got remember that even if every single one of those jobs were magically filled by qualified workers tomorrow, there would still be two more workers out there looking for work. “

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

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