MEDIA RELEASE: Unemployment rate drops in December but number of unemployed in NC up for 2011

RALEIGH (Jan. 24, 2012) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.9 percent in December, according to data released today by the Division of Employment Security. Despite the month-to-month decline, however, the number of unemployed persons has actually grown by 9,154 since December 2010.

“There continues to be too few jobs for the state’s workforce,” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “The result is ongoing high numbers of unemployed workers, workers out of work for longer, and slow growth in the labor force overall.”

Over the year, a total of 19,600 jobs were added in North Carolina. While it is certainly positive that the state is no longer losing jobs, the pace of job growth will make it difficult for North Carolina to close its jobs deficit of nearly half a million.

If North Carolina is to reach pre-recession employment levels by 2015, 16,000 jobs would need to be created each month for three years. The ESC data shows a decline of 4,400 jobs between November and December 2011.

Another trend of note is the industries experiencing job growth. The service sector showed an increase over the year of 19,000 jobs while the goods-producing sector declined by 100 jobs. These figures suggest the transformation of the economy that began well before the Great Recession is still underway.

“If North Carolina is to rebuild its economy, it will be critical that the jobs deficit is closed with good, quality jobs,” said Sirota.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, alexandra@ncjustice.org, 919.861.1468; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).

The N.C. Budget and Tax Center—a project of the N.C. Justice Center—seeks to create economic opportunity and shared prosperity for all North Carolinians through non-partisan research, education and advocacy on budget, tax and economic issues.