MEDIA RELEASE: New joblessness numbers: unemployment creates more pain for working families

Analyst: Now is the time for state lawmakers to maintain public investments, which boost the economy and support workers

RALEIGH (July 17, 2009) -- The latest state unemployment numbers suggest that economic recovery will be a lengthy process for North Carolina workers - and further highlight the need to preserve vital state programs that protect working families, an analyst with the NC Justice Center said this morning.

According to numbers released by the state's Employment Security Commission today, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for North Carolina dipped one-tenth of one percent to 11% in June. The national rate increased from 9.4% to 9.5% in June.

"It looks like we are bumping along the bottom of the economic slump right now. It is difficult to predict when the slide will end," said Dr. Stephen Jackson, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center. "With unemployment at such a high level, it is now more important than ever to maintain our critical public investments."

Government, education and health jobs continue to be the drivers of employment growth in the state, whereas manufacturing, finance, hospitality and construction sectors all saw more job loss in June. Manufacturing has lost over 70,000 jobs in the last year.

North Carolina has shed almost 200,000 jobs in the last year.

State public investment programs, said Jackson, stimulate the economy by preserving jobs as well as providing essential support for vulnerable populations in North Carolina. When navigating the budget impasse, legislators should keep this in mind.

"Government initiatives don't just stimulate the economy, they provide crucial assistance for families whose primary breadwinner becomes jobless," said Jackson.

It's especially important, Jackson said, for people to have access to certain programs in a time of economic crisis. Examples include the NC Health Choice program, which provides health insurance for the children of working families who do not have health insurance through their employer.

Another way the state can help, he said, is by keeping doors to community colleges open for workers who need retraining after being thrown out of work.

"This unemployment figures should send a clear message to lawmakers that doing nothing is not an option," said Jackson. "The history of recent economic downturns tells us job growth during any recovery will be relatively slow. It is clear that legislators must raise additional revenue to save jobs, boost the economy, and preserve programs that benefit all of us."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Stephen Jackson, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, 919.863.2402 (office), 503.551.3615 (mobile).