Employment growth slowed in N.C. and nation in 2017

Prosperity Watch (Issue 82, No. 3)

Jan. 29, 2018

Employment growth appears to have slowed in 2017, both across the country and in North Carolina. The stock market may have continued its historic run of record highs, but that investor optimism has not produced robust job growth for our state or nation.

Employment in North Carolina expanded by 1.4 percent in 2017, well shy of the 2.2 percent rate posted in 2016, or the 2.7 percent growth experienced in 2015. At the national level too, employment growth slowed to 1.2 percent, slightly behind 2016 and well shy of the 1.7 and 1.9 percent rates produced in the preceding two years.

Nationwide, 2017 was the slowest year of job growth since 2013 and the data in thus far indicate that North Carolina employment posted its worst rate since 2011.1

The slowdown in job creation raises the likelihood that North Carolina will not return to pre-recession levels of employment before the next downturn happens. Our state made no progress in increasing the share of North Carolina residents that are working, with 58.8 percent of North Carolinians working in first and last months of 2017, still significantly below historical levels that existed before the Great Recession.


1Some caution is warranted when analyzing employment figures from late 2017. These data are based on surveys, and are often revised after more processing and weighting analysis is performed. The end of years are particularly likely to be revised because the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is responsible for collecting and analyzing the surveys, adjusts the previous years’ estimates in the first quarter of each year. This re-standardization often results in meaningful changes to the employment figures for the last few months of each preceding year.

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