Raleigh (Oct. 21, 2016) — North Carolina’s economy continues to follow U.S. labor market trends. However, the share of the population who are employed has remained relatively unchanged and failed to return North Carolina to pre-recession levels of employment.

“North Carolina’s economic recovery has not reached all those who are seeking work,” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget & Tax Center at the NC Justice Center. “That is because there are still too few jobs for the workforce and workers have remained outside of the labor force at a greater rate than the nation.”

North Carolina is 4.2 percentage points below the level of labor force participation that was the norm before the Great Recession.

Other key findings from the labor market release include:

  • Far too many North Carolinians still cannot find work: There were over 225,000 North Carolinians looking for work last month.
  • Not making progress in getting people back into the labor market: September figures show that approximately 58 percent of North Carolinians were employed, which is below the pre-recession level of employment (61.9 percent).
  • Industry level job growth reinforces long-term trend in service industry growth: The Service Providing Sector grew by 2.1 percent over the past year. Within that category, the largest growth was in Retail Trade, an area with consistently lower wages.  Meanwhile, in the Goods Producing Sector, there was job growth of 1 percent; Construction showed the only job growth in that sector over the past year with a 4 percent change in the number of jobs.

“Without job growth that matches the state’s growing workforce, it will be increasingly difficult for the economic recovery to deliver wage gains and improved economic security for households across the state,” Sirota said.  “Policymakers must consider the reality of industries that are growing too when  determining how to grow the wages of workers. There must be a plan to connect low-wage workers to career pathways and jobs in higher-wage industries through training and other investments.”

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 Alexandra F. Sirota,Director of the Budget & Tax Center at the NC Justice Center, at 919-856-1468 or Alexandra@ncjustice.org; or Mel Umbarger, BTC Senior Communications Specialist, at mel@ncjustice.org.