MEDIA RELEASE: State-level data shows unemployment rate remains unchanged

State-level data shows unemployment rate remains unchanged
Ongoing job losses in public, private sector create huge gap between current number of jobs available and the number of individuals who need them

RALEIGH (June 17, 2011) – North Carolina’s unemployment rate remains unchanged since April at 9.7 percent, data released today shows, without nearly enough jobs available to make up for the loss of jobs since the start of the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate has hovered around this level since November 2010, notes the Budget and Tax Center, who attribute the continued lack of improvement in employment outcomes to the ongoing loss of jobs in the current economy. From April to May 2011, North Carolina lost an additional 7,400 jobs, with the labor force growing by a meager 0.3 percent.

Economic recovery requires a focus on growing jobs for North Carolina’s unemployed workers in order to end continuing job loss, BTC analysts say.

The number of unemployed workers in North Carolina has increased by 92.4 percent since the start of the Great Recession, compared to an 81.6 percent increase nationwide. Job losses in the public sector over the past year have driven worse than expected labor market outcomes, with data showing that North Carolina has lost 32,500 jobs in the government sector since May 2010.

“Contrary to current debates, the loss of public sector jobs has a direct impact on the vibrancy of the private sector,” said Alexandra Forter Sirota, director of the BTC, “as these workers cut back on spending in local economies and public sector functions – research, service delivery, infrastructure maintenance – that support private sector growth are lost, economic expansion is deferred.”

BTC analysts found that nearly 30,000 jobs will be lost over the biennium due to state budget cuts, with half of those jobs lost in the private sector which suggests further challenges for the economic recovery in the future.

The latest job figures from May indicate that an additional 479,900 jobs would have to be created to make up the difference between the current number of jobs available in North Carolina and the number it needs to regain the state’s pre-recession employment rate.

“The job losses that will result from state budget cuts will further defer the state's economic recovery,” Sirota pointed out. “North Carolina's job deficit is daunting.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, director, NC Budget & Tax Center,alexandra@ncjustice.org, 919.861.1468; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (mobile).