Prosperity Watch Issue 36, No. 5: North Carolina faces significant jobs deficit

Although North Carolina has seen some improvement in the state’s economy over the last year, the Tarheel state is still not creating enough jobs to fully recover from the Great Recession. North Carolina’s job growth is slower than the national average and slower than in previous years—and it’s been so slow, that at current rates it will take nearly a decade to replace the jobs lost to the recession and keep up with population growth.

Over the past six years, it’s become increasingly clear that the Great Recession hit North Carolina especially hard, eliminating more than 300,000 jobs. Replacing those lost jobs remains a critical challenge for policy makers, one exacerbated by the state’s 10 percent population growth since the recession ended in 2009, since enough jobs must be created to meet the needs of the growing population. This is what economists call the jobs deficit—the number of jobs the state needs to create to return to pre-recession employment levels and keep up with population growth. In March 2014, this jobs deficit now stands at 491,000 jobs.

So while the state created about 65,000 jobs in the year since March 2013, this is just a drop in the bucket in terms of what the state actually needs. And at the current rate of job creation, it’s going to take another 8 years to close this jobs deficit and fully recover from the Great Recession.


Given the massive jobs deficit we face, the state needs to be creating jobs at a significantly faster rate than the rest of the nation and creating jobs that at a faster rate than the year before—and unfortunately, the last year failed on both counts. First, when compared to the rest of the nation, North Carolina failed to make progress. The state saw its payrolls expand by 1.6 percent since March 2013. This represents slower job growth than the 1.7 percent rate of job creation in the nation as a whole. Even more troubling, this represents a reversal from the previous year (March 2012 to March 2013), during which North Carolina outpaced the nation in job creation 1.6 percent to 1.5 percent.

Secondly, North Carolina’s job creation since March 2013 was worse than its job creation the year before.  Over the past year (March 2013-2014), the state created 200 fewer jobs than it did over the same period the year before (March 2012-2013), and only created 100 more jobs than were created from March 2011-2012—hardly enough to ensure a meaningful economy recovery.   

To fill this jobs deficit, the state needs to create more jobs at a much faster rate.

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