Prosperity Watch Issue 56, No. 1: North Carolina's job growth not sufficient to boost the economy

December 1, 2015

The latest labor market data show that North Carolina is not creating enough jobs for everyone that wants to work. As of October 2015, 57.5 percent of North Carolinians were employed, leaving the state well below employment levels commonplace before the Great Recession. In the mid-2000s, employment levels reached a peak of about 63 percent. The percent of North Carolinians with a job remains below the national average, as it has been since the Great Recession.

These employment levels belie a Carolina Comeback. While job creation rates have generally been positive since mid-2010, over most time periods North Carolina has tracked the nation. Since the recession began, North Carolina has also underperformed the nation with a 2.3 percent change in employment over that period compared to the national employment growth of 3.1 percent. The state has grown jobs faster than the nation over the period between October 2014 and October 2015.  

North Carolina must consistently outperform the nation in order to undo the greater damage done to the state’s employment levels after the Great Recession and to keep up with the state’s faster than average population growth. Without strong job creation, there remain too few employment opportunities for those who want to work, wages remain depressed, and businesses have yet to see strong demand for their goods and services.


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