RALEIGH (December 7, 2015) — With many parts of the state still suffering from elevated unemployment and stagnate wages, not all tidings are happy across North Carolina this holiday season.

Today’s labor market data release for October shows that many communities have never fully recovered from the recession. All but one metropolitan area, and most counties, still have more people looking for work than before the economic collapse in 2007. Wage growth has been anemic across much of the state, so even those with jobs are struggling to make ends meet, which further holds the entire economy back.

“With the majority of counties still below pre-recession employment levels, we continue to see rural North Carolina miss out on a lot of the recovery,” said Patrick McHugh, Economic Analyst for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “Perhaps even more alarmingly, a quarter of North Carolina’s counties lost jobs over the last year, and that’s with the national economy going strong.”

Wages have not kept up with inflation in many parts of the state and have actually lost ground to inflation in more than half of the metro areas since the start of the recession.

“Even in places like Raleigh and Charlotte, often described as North Carolina’s economic engines, an hour’s pay does not buy as much as it did in 2007,” McHugh said.

Key findings from the county data include:

  • The number of people looking for work is still higher than it was before the recession in 68 counties.
  • 61 of North Carolina’s 100 counties have not gotten back to pre-recession levels of employment.
  • 26 counties actually lost jobs from October 2014 to this year.

Key findings from the metropolitan data include:

  • The number of people looking for work has grown faster than the number of jobs in every metropolitan area since the start of the recession.
  • Hourly wages have grown slower than inflation in 9 of North Carolina’s 15 metropolitan areas since the start of the Great Recession (Asheville, Charlotte, Goldsboro, Greensboro-High Point, Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, New Bern, Rocky Mount, Raleigh, and Wilmington).
  • The Budget & Tax Center provides summaries of each county’s current labor market data, and how each county has fared since the start of the recession.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Patrick McHugh, patrick@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2183; Julia Hawes, julia@ncjustice.org, 919.863.2406.