MEDIA RELEASE: Major report tackles future of work in North Carolina

The State of Working North Carolina 2015 finds that the long-term decline of quality jobs demands wise policy choices now

RALEIGH (Sep. 7, 2015) — A major new report from the NC Justice Center looks at the future of work in North Carolina – and concludes that the policy choices we make now will be pivotal for workers in our state for years to come.

Lost in the debate over the number of jobs being created in North Carolina is the question of how many of those jobs are quality jobs. Having a job is no longer a guarantee of financial security, the State of Working North Carolina 2015 report finds, because increasingly jobs no longer provide the wages, benefits, and opportunities for upward advancement that make it possible for workers to make ends meet. Covering issues ranging from technological change to worker productivity, from paid leave to health insurance, the report offers a comprehensive analysis of how average North Carolinians are doing, and how the right policy decisions can  will create quality jobs or provide the supports workers are no longer getting from their jobs.

The long-term decline of quality jobs in North Carolina is occurring alongside a fundamental transformation in the nature of work—rapid technological development is changing how we work, who we work for, and how our work is rewarded. In turn, public policy plays a crucial role in determining what those pressures mean for workers and their access to quality jobs.

Policy makers, the authors conclude, should focus on providing quality jobs that fulfill the following requirements:

  • Pays a living wage that allows workers to afford the basics, make ends meet, and provide for their families.
  • Allows workers to take paid time to recover from illness, to welcome the birth or adoption of a new child, or care for sick family members.
  • Ensures retirement security, including access to sufficient income to retire with dignity.
  • Provides access to affordable health insurance.
  • Allows workers to collectively bargain with their employer
  • Provides workers with access to pathways for skill development and career mobility.

Unfortunately, quality jobs that provide these benefits are on the decline, making it far more difficult for work itself to generate security, provide opportunity and deliver prosperity. Some facts from the report:

  • Productivity has increased by about 3 percent during the ongoing recovery from the Great Recession, but in a historically unprecedented trend, wages fell by more than 7 percent in the same period.
  • More than 11 percent of the labor force is part-time for despite wanting a full-time job.
  • There are now 1.2 million workers who cannot take paid time off when they or their children are sick.
  • More than 60% of North Carolina workers over 18 years old are without employer pensions.
  • The number of workers who do not have health insurance has dropped to 17.5 percent from 20 percent in 2009, showing how good policies provide workers with the supports they’re no longer getting from their jobs.
  • The unionization rate of workers is now 1.9 percent in North Carolina, the lowest in the country.
  • A little more than a third of the state’s prime working age population has an associate’s degree or higher.

Policymakers must consider how to construct policies that support quality job creation as well as provide workers with the benefits they used to receive from their job. This will in turn ensure that workers secure greater access to the economic rewards their labor generates and boost the economy for everyone.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Allan Freyer, director of the Workers’ Rights Project at the NC Justice Center, 919.856.2151, allan@ncjustice.org; Patrick McHugh, policy analyst at the Budget & Tax Center, 919.856.2183, patrick@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615, jeff@ncjustice.org.

 
 

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