RALEIGH (March 27, 2015) – North Carolina’s employment growth over the year signals that the state continues to recover apace with the national recovery, according to the latest labor market data. Employment grew by 3.3 percent in North Carolina from February 2013 to February 2014, while U.S. employment growth was 3.4 percent.

“North Carolina’s economy continues to move in lockstep with the national economy,” said Patrick McHugh, economic analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “North Carolina’s unemployment rate was .2 lower than the nation a year ago, and that’s exactly where we remain today. Our economy has not performed exceptionally.”

February labor market data show that North Carolina still has a long way to go to address the harm of the Great Recession and rebuild a stronger economy:

  • Unemployment remains elevated: The headline unemployment rate for February was 5.3 percent, still above the norm for the years leading up to the recession.
  • Employment levels remain depressed: Measuring how North Carolina is faring in providing employment opportunities to the population shows that there is still much more progress needed. North Carolina’s employment-to-population ratio remains nearly 5 percentage points above pre-recession levels. In February 2015, 57.2 percent of North Carolinians were working compared to 61.9 percent in December 2007.
  • Labor force participation continues to fall: In February 2015, 60.4 percent of North Carolinians were participating in the labor market compared to 65.2 percent in December 2007.
  • The jobs deficit stands at more than 400,000: The number of jobs needed so that the state can regain its pre-recession employment is 426,000.

A recent Budget & Tax Center study shows that North Carolina has lost ground in a variety of ways since the start of the Great Recession: wages are stagnating, employment levels are depressed, and the vast majority of jobs are paying low-wages.

“Overall the state is experiencing growth without prosperity and policy choices will matter to ensure that all North Carolinians can enjoy the benefits of a recovering economy,” McHugh said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patrick McHugh, patrick.mchugh@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2183; Jeff Shaw, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615 (cell).