MEDIA RELEASE: Local labor market data for June show economic weakness across much of North Carolina

RALEIGH (July 29, 2015) — With the statewide economy not making strong gains, many local economies across North Carolina have not fully recovered from the Great Recession. The majority of North Carolina counties are still reporting fewer people working than before the recession, wages are stagnating or shrinking across much of the state, and some local areas have actually lost ground over the last year.

"We’ve been documenting the lack of employment growth in many rural parts of the state for years, but it’s increasingly clear that lots of people in urban areas are struggling as well," said Patrick McHugh, Economic Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. "The number of people looking for work has grown faster than the number of people with a job in every metropolitan area in the state since 2007. Even the relative bright spots in the state are not delivering the goods for everyone who wants to work."

Since 2007, hourly wages have lost ground in more than half of the metropolitan areas in North Carolina, even in places like Raleigh and Charlotte that are often seen as economic powerhouses.

Key findings from the county data include:

  • The number of people looking for work decreased in 70 of North Carolina’s 100 counties over the last year, but is still higher than it was before the recession in 82 counties.
  • 63 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have not gotten back to pre-recession levels of employment.
  • The unemployment rate increased since June of 2014 in over a quarter or North Carolina’s counties.

Key findings from the metropolitan data include:

  • While most metropolitan areas have added jobs since the start of the Great Recession, the number of people looking for work has grown faster in every metropolitan area during that period.
  • 14 of North Carolina’s 15 metropolitan areas still have more people looking for work than before the recession.
  • Hourly wages have grown slower than inflation in eight of North Carolina’s 15 metropolitan areas since the start of the Great Recession (Asheville, Charlotte, Goldsboro, Greensboro-High Point, Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington). This means that an hour’s pay does not buy as much as it did in 2007 in many of the cities across the state.
  • Hourly wages have lost at least 10 percent of their purchasing power since the start of the Great Recession in four metropolitan areas (Goldsboro, Greensboro-High Point, New Bern, and Wilmington).

Every month the Budget & Tax Center provides summaries of each county’s current labor market data and how each county has fared since the start of the recession.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Patrick McHugh,, 919.856.2183; Jeff Shaw,, 503.551.3615 (cell).