RALEIGH (May 27, 2015) — April’s employment numbers continue to show the challenges of a slow economic recovery that has failed to create needed jobs and wage growth that can serve to further boost North Carolina’s economy.

The hourly wage for the average North Carolina worker grew year-over-year by 16 cents, according to analysis of the latest labor market data by the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. Wage growth for private employees in North Carolina was less than one percent (0.7 percent) compared to a growth rate of 2.18 percent nationally, both of which remain below the 3.5 or 4 percent target that economists find ensures workers benefit from economic growth.

“The failure of the state’s economic recovery to generate improved wages for everyday North Carolinians is not just hurting families but holding the state back from growing more jobs,” said Alexandra Sirota, director of the Budget & Tax Center.

North Carolina’s employment levels in April remained 4.2 percentage points below pre-recession levels compared to national levels, which are 3.4 percentage points behind the employment to population rate in 2007.

Other highlights from the April data include:

  • Unemployment rate not making gains: After falling dramatically from 2009 through the third quarter of 2014, the state and national unemployment rates have flattened out in recent months. Even while the state continues to add jobs, growth is not enough to push unemployment below the 5% threshold that most economists see as the top-end of a healthy labor market. Unlike the small decline in national figures month over month, North Carolina’s unemployment rate saw a small (0.1 percentage point) increase over the month.
  • Still more North Carolinians out of work than before the Great Recession: Even though the ranks of the unemployed have declined over the past year, there remain 14.1 percent more unemployed in the state in April 2015 than there were in December 2007. While North Carolina has seen job growth year over year, the state’s job deficit of 425,000 persists demonstrating just how far the state must outperform the nation to address the damage of the Great Recession.
  • Percent of North Carolinians employed still near historic lows: March numbers showed 57.5% of North Carolinians were employed, which is up 1 percentage point from March 2014. However, this still leaves North Carolina well below the level of employment that was commonplace before the Great Recession. In the mid-2000’s, employment levels were generally between 62% and 63%. Moreover, the level of employment in North Carolina has fallen behind the national average, when the state was generally at or above the nation in the pre-recession period.

For more context on the current state of the North Carolina economy, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s weekly Prosperity Watch platform.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Alexandra Forter Sirota, alexandra@ncjustice.org; Jeff Shaw, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).