RALEIGH (August 2, 2019) — June’s local labor market data shows a slight uptick in unemployment in most metro and micro statistical areas across the state over the past two months. This is coupled with the stubborn concentration of job loss in Eastern North Carolina. Metropolitan areas such as Raleigh, Charlotte, Asheville, and Winston-Salem continue to lead the state in job growth year-over-year. But many communities continue to struggle, including micro areas such as Elizabeth City, Washington, and North Wilkesboro, which have lost jobs both since the Great Recession and year-over-year. Wilson, in particular, has lost 13 percent of its jobs since December of 2007 and almost 1 percent of its jobs since June of 2018.

The county-level analysis provides a closer view of these trends. There are still 40 counties that have fewer jobs than at the beginning of the Great Recession, and 13 of those have also lost jobs year-over-year. Of those 13 “Double Whammy” counties, 9 of them are concentrated in Eastern North Carolina, underscoring regional challenges. Interestingly, five Western North Carolina counties lead the state with year-over-year job growth. Buncombe, Haywood, Madison, Henderson, and Jackson counties have all experienced job growth in excess of 4 percent.

“With indicators that the national economy could be slowing, it is more important than ever that we pay attention to the warning signs locally,” said William Munn, Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “Too many communities have not recovered from the last downturn and are in a poor position to weather another.”

Here are some indicators highlighting North Carolina’s varying economic outcomes:

  • Too many communities have not recovered: Forty counties in North Carolina have fewer job today than before the beginning of the Great Recession. These counties are concentrated in the Northeastern, Southeastern and Northwestern corridors of the state. Washington, Martin, Tyrrell, and Graham counties have all lost more than 20 percent their jobs and have unemployment rates in excess of 5 percent. Hyde, Wilson, Vance, Warren, Edgecombe, and Halifax counties have the state’s highest unemployment rates, all topping 6.5 percent and all located in Northeastern N.C. As we cautiously monitor another hurricane season, we recognize that economic shocks often follow natural disasters.
  • Mountain Strong: Buncombe (4.9% unemployment rate), Haywood (4.9%), Madison (4.8%), Henderson (4.7%) and Jackson (4.4%) have shown incredible job growth since last June. Since December of 2007, all but Jackson County have seen nearly double-digit job growth, with Buncombe and Henderson counties leading the group with increases of 23.5 percent and 19.3 percent respectively.

For charts showing numbers for all counties and micro/metro areas and for county-level data downloads, visit www.ncjustice.org/LaborMarket.

For more context on the economic choices facing North Carolina, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s weekly Prosperity Watch report.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT William Munn, Budget & Tax Center Policy Analyst at will@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2234; Mel Umbarger, Senior Communications Specialist, mel@ncjustice.org.

The nonpartisan Budget & Tax Center is a project of the NC Justice Center, which works to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.