With the 2016 legislative session entering its final days, some state leaders are trying to rewrite history and blind their constituents to present reality. Local economic data released today reveals that much of the state has never recovered from the Great Recession, a fact that all too often goes unheeded in Raleigh.
“Saying that North Carolina’s economy is in great shape is as out of touch as not calling home on Father’s Day,” said Patrick McHugh, Economic Analyst for the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. “Some state leaders have apparently forgotten how hard North Carolina got walloped by the Great Recession, and are now trying to convince us that everything is just fine, even when a lot of North Carolina families and communities haven’t recovered.”
May marks 100 months since the start of the Great Recession, but years of slow and uneven growth have not been enough to get many communities back to where they were. Job growth in North Carolina has been much slower than has historically been the case and, even with a very modest national rate of growth, almost half of North Carolina’s counties are falling further behind.
Signs that many communities have not recovered include:
• Almost three-quarters of our counties have a higher unemployment rate than before the Great Recession. With statewide progress in reducing unemployment stalled, many local communities are getting stuck with a worse employment picture than they had before the recession.
• About half of the counties in North Carolina have not gotten back to pre-recession levels of employment. Even after years of economic recovery, 55 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have fewer jobs today than existed before the Great Recession. Even as the state population has increased and job growth in parts of the state has been significant, many communities are still struggling with depressed levels of employment.
• Lack of recovery is not a purely rural problem. Ten of North Carolina’s fifteen metropolitan areas have a higher unemployment rate than before the Great Recession. Moreover, the number of people out of work has grown faster than the number of people with a job in all of the following metropolitan areas: Asheville, Durham-Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Greenville, Jacksonville, New Bern, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and Wilmington.