Prosperity Watch Issue 8

Prosperity Watch Issue 8, No. 3: Employment to Population Measure shows high number of working age population in NC Counties still out of work

County unemployment rates were released last week for November 2011. The unemployment rate declined in 74 of the 100 counties, however, this decline doesn’t necessarily demonstrate significant improvements in the labor market picture for North Carolina’s counties overall. Many counties continue to struggle with persistently high unemployment rates. A quarter of all counties continue to have unemployment rates two percentage points higher than the state average.

But there is also another challenge with the unemployment rate. It doesn’t give us a sense of the proportion of the working-age population that is working. This is because it masks the people who have left the labor market for various reasons, a phenomena that has been noted by researchers in NC and the US as driving in part the decline in the unemployment rate.

Another measure of how the labor market is doing in terms of providing work opportunities is the employment to population ratio. This is the number of employed persons as a percent of the working-age population, aged 16 to 64. If you look at this figure, 58 counties in North Carolina have an employment population ratio below the state average. The majority of counties have 1 out 4 of their working age population not working.


Prosperity Watch Issue 8, No. 2 SPECIAL ISSUE: 11 for 2011 — Key economic trends from 2011 that will define 2012

As we look to the challenges facing North Carolina in in the year ahead, it is important to review the key economic and fiscal trends of the past year—trends that will continue to define our state’s policy environment and opportunities for more widely shared prosperity in 2012. In this special edition of Prosperity Watch, we present 11 for 2011—11 charts produced by the NC Budget & Tax Center over the last year that best capture these ongoing trends and emerging challenges.

In these charts, we see troubling indicators of the state’s economic and fiscal health:

  • an increasing jobs deficit; rising underemployment and poverty;
  • the long-term erosion of the tax base and the state’s ability to provide critical public services at a time of unprecedented need;
  • and the consequences of the deep spending cuts to these public services enacted in FY2011-2013 budget.

A bonus 12th chart looks ahead to 2012, depicting the public and private sector job losses that will likely result from the final budget for FY 2012-2013. Taken together these trends signal a difficult road ahead for North Carolina’s families, workers, and policy makers that will challenge a more robust economic recovery and broader prosperity in the year ahead.

Prosperity Watch Issue 8, No. 1: Job Deficit Narrows Slightly but Still Above 500,000

The good news from yesterday’s labor-market data release from the NC Division of Employment Security is that the state’s unemployment rate dropped dramatically from 10.4 percent in October to 10.0 percent in November. The bad news? North Carolina still faces a jobs deficit of more than 500,000 jobs to get back to pre-recession employment levels (see chart below).

North Carolina’s jobs deficit includes the number of jobs lost since the start of the recession (295,000 jobs) plus the number of jobs needed to keep pace with the state’s population growth (214,500 jobs).

Although the monthly household survey indicated a month-over-month employment increase of nearly 13,000, the survey of business establishments showed a much smaller increase of only 3,800 jobs. In either case, the state’s economy is falling short of creating the number of jobs necessary for the state to reach pre-recession employment levels within three years (16,000 new jobs per month).

Over the past year, North Carolina’s economy has added fewer than 20,000 new jobs.