Prosperity Watch Issue 61, No. 1: Almost Half of North Carolina Falling Behind the Nation

May 3, 2016
 
State leaders touting recent job gains often ignore how many communities have fallen further behind over the past few years. Employment growth in North Carolina has been slightly faster than the national average, but not all parts of the state are prospering. 
 
 
As shown here, almost half of the counties in North Carolina have not kept up with the national rate of job growth since the start of 2013. With growth and population increasingly clustering in urban and suburban counties, statewide figures often hide the lack of progress being made everywhere else. Taking a longer view, less than half of the counties in North Carolina have matched the national rate of job growth since the start of the Great Recession. While all but a few of North Carolina’s counties have seen some employment gains over the last few years, many counties have not seen the kind of growth needed to keep them from falling further behind.
 
Tepid job growth is doubly concerning given how devastating the Great Recession was across much of the state. The recession hit North Carolina particularly hard, with unemployment peaking above 11 percent in early 2010, and the rate of growth since then has not been sufficient to get most communities back on even terms with the nation. More than half of North Carolina’s counties still have fewer jobs today than existed on the eve of the recession, and unemployment eclipses the national rate in nearly 80 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.
 
Recent state economic policy has not leveled the playing field in North Carolina. More than half of North Carolina’s counties have not gotten back to where they were before the Great Recession, and many of the same communities have fallen even further behind the nation over the last few years.
For more data on each county’s economic outlook, visit our County Data page.

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