Prosperity Watch Issue 4

Prosperity Watch Issue 4, No. 3: North Carolina's small cities continue to suffer from high unemployment

According to new labor market data from the NC Employment Security Commission, North Carolina’s small cities— defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as “micropolitan regions” consisting of 10,000 to 50,000 people centered around an urban core—have higher unemployment rates than the state itself.

In August, North Carolina’s small cities saw their unemployment rates rise to an average of 13.6%, significantly outpacing the 10.4% unemployment rate for the entire state. Compared to the state average, the jobless rate for these small cities range from a high of 17.6% in Laurinberg (7.2 percentage points higher than the state as a whole) to a low of 7.5% in Kill Devil Hills (which had an unemployment rate 2.9 points lower than the state’s). Taken together, fully 18 of North Carolina’s 26 micropolitan regions had jobless rates higher than the state average, suggesting labor market challenges for these small towns are somewhat different than those same challenges facing the state as a whole.

Prosperity Watch Issue 4, No. 2: North Carolina’s jobs deficit

North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased to 10.4% in August. Over the last year, most of the unemployment increases have been driven by layoffs from state and local government, which have shed 14,700 jobs since August 2010. Without these public sector layoffs, total employment would have been almost 40% higher, demonstrating the extent to which private sector growth is not making up for public sector employment losses.

The continued loss of jobs is digging a deeper hole for North Carolina’s workers. The jobs deficit in August—the difference between the number of jobs North Carolina has and the number it needs to regain its pre-recession employment rate—is 492,100. That number includes the 289,300 jobs North Carolina lost plus the 202,800 jobs it needs to keep up with the 4.9% growth in population that North Carolina has experienced in the 44 months since the recession began.

Prosperity Watch, Issue 4, No. 1: Private sector job losses accompany government layoffs across North Carolina's metro areas

Large-scale layoffs from federal, state, and local governments drove negative total employment growth across all of North Carolina’s fourteen metropolitan areas in July, according to new numbers from the NC Employment Security Commission. Despite hopes of a private sector recovery driven by government layoffs, the state’s metro areas saw the opposite: deep public sector job losses accompanied by widespread private sector job losses. While nine metro areas saw negative private sector job growth and one metro saw zero private sector job creation (Hickory), only four metros (Fayetteville, Greenville, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem,) saw a net increase in private sector employment, and none of these regions saw sufficient private business hiring to replace the jobs lost to government layoffs.

These findings reinforce the reality that North Carolina’s jobs deficit is hitting metro areas in the same way as the state as a whole, and that public sector layoffs simply aren’t helping private sector job growth.