MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina jobs picture gets better, still lags nation

RALEIGH (March 13, 2012) – North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 10.2 percent in January, according to new data released by the NC Employment Security Division.  Despite this improvement in the jobless rate, the state still lags the national economy in terms of job creation and, as a result faces a critical jobs deficit.

In January, 58.5 percent of all Americans were currently employed, compared to only 55.6 percent of North Carolinians—a 3-percentage point difference that has largely remained unchanged over the last year, suggesting that the recovery of the state’s labor market is significantly lagging behind the nation as a whole.  Comparing the number of employed people to the entire population provides a much clearer picture of the job market, as it includes these discouraged workers, as well as accounting for the number of jobs needed to keep up with natural growth in the population.  

“While job creation gains were certainly unmistakable over the last quarter, the state is still clearly lagging behind the national average in terms of employment growth, especially when compared to population changes in both the state and the nation,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the NC Budget & Tax Center. “Things are clearly getting better, but we’re still falling further and further behind the rest of the nation.”

North Carolina’s labor market is also failing to keep up with a population growth and faces a significant jobs deficit of 503,600—the number of jobs the state needs to create in order to reach its employment levels from before the onset of the Great Recession.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, that number includes the 227,500 jobs North Carolina lost plus the 303,100 jobs it needs to keep up with the 7.3 percent growth in population that North Carolina has experienced in the 49 months since the recession began.

“Closing the state’s job deficit is critical to all of our economic security,” said Alexandra Sirota, “Policymakers must remain focused on policies that will do the most to create, good quality jobs in the state.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst, NC Budget & Tax Center, allan@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2151; Alexandra Forter Sirota, Director, NC Budget & Tax Center, Alexandra@ncjustice.org, 919.861.1468.