Employment figures for June show tepid growth across much of the state and actual backsliding in many communities. All but a handful of counties saw their unemployment rate increase since May, roughly one-fifth of North Carolina’s counties lost jobs compared to this time last year, and almost half of our counties saw the size of their active labor force decline since June 2015.
“Unfortunately, the weather in North Carolina recently has been a lot hotter than the economy” said Patrick McHugh, Economic Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, part of the NC Justice Center. “We often see job growth flatten out in the early part of summer, but this year’s summer swoon has been particularly dramatic.”
Highlights from today’s labor market data release include:
- Many communities did not see growth over the last year. Even while the state and national employment continued to grow, roughly 1 out of every 5 counties in North Carolina lost jobs since this time last year. Moreover, the number of people employed or looking for work decreased in almost half of the counties in North Carolina. These two figures show that statewide employment figures mask the degree of economic strife that persists in many communities.
- More than half of N.C. counties have a higher unemployment rate than before the Great Recession. While some parts of North Carolina have gotten back to the level of unemployment that existed before the great recession, roughly 6 out of 10 counties across the state are still contending with elevated levels of unemployment. This is particularly worrisome given than many communities were struggling even before the recession hit.
- More than half of the counties in North Carolina are still below pre-recession levels of employment. Even after years of economic recovery, 53 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have fewer jobs today than existed before the Great Recession. The state population has increased and job growth in parts of the state has been significant, but many communities still do not have enough jobs for everyone that wants to work.
- Lack of recovery is not limited to rural communities. Only three metropolitan areas have a lower 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, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem