MEDIA RELEASE: Unemployment declines in NC counties, but so does labor market participation

Unemployment declines in NC counties, but so does labor market participation
Lawmakers must back targeted job creation programs now, analyst says

RALEIGH (Oct. 29, 2010) -- The unemployment rate declined in nearly all North Carolina counties from August to September. Of the state’s 100 counties, 97 saw their joblessness rates decline.

Analysts cautioned, though, that this masks larger realities about economic health of the state’s working families.

74 counties also saw their labor force contract, said Alexandra Forter Sirota, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center, meaning discouraged workers continue to leave the labor market

“While this contributes to the decline in the unemployment rate,” said Sirota, “it signals that the labor market on the whole is not healthy. State lawmakers should take action to help put North Carolinians back to work.”

Another problem with the labor market lies in geographic disparities. The persistently high unemployment rates in the western, eastern and southeastern parts of the state suggest that targeted measures will be necessary to create jobs and support unemployed workers.

Gov. Beverly Perdue announced yesterday the launch of the JobBoost Program. The program will connect low-income unemployed workers in high unemployment counties to jobs in the public and private sector by providing employers with a wage subsidy, which is an important and proven way to create jobs in these communities. 

This program is modeled after the successful subsidized jobs program that ran in North Carolina from January 2010 to September 2010 and created more than 1,000.

Job creation must be a top priority, Sirota said. A program that invests in connecting low-income workers to well-paying jobs is essential in today’s labor market.

“Long-term high unemployment devastates a community, and that is exactly what is happening to communities in these regions of North Carolina,” said Sirota. “Targeted wage subsidy programs can ease the burden on our state’s families and give those regions an economic spark.

Durham/Chapel Hill (2,200) saw the largest over the month increase in employment followed by Winston Salem (1300).

Other metropolitan areas struggled. Greensboro/ High Point (9.8), Burlington (9.9), Charlotte/Gastonia/ Rock Hill (10.4), Hickory/Lenoir/Morganton (11.7) and Rocky Mount (11.8) all have unemployment rates higher than the state average.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, 919.861.1468, alexandra@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, 503.551.3615, jeff@ncjustice.org.

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