North Carolina continues to follow the national trend of growth without widespread recovery. After trailing the national unemployment rate for most of the last year, North Carolina has returned to even footing with an uneven national economy.

“Our unemployment rate is identical to the national average; you don’t get any more mediocre than that” said Patrick McHugh, a Budget & Tax Center Policy Analyst at the NC Justice Center. “Unless you’re satisfied with historically meager growth and the decline of middle-income jobs, there’s no cause for celebration.”

In spite of many recent claims to the contrary, North Carolina’s growth has not been at the top of the heap nationally. Employment in North Carolina has expanded by 2.1 percent since June of 2015, largely tracking the national growth rate of 1.7 percent, but not enough to put North Carolina among even the top ten states nationwide for job growth.

Other key findings from the labor market release include:

  • North Carolina pay remains below the national average. The average weekly paycheck in North Carolina came in roughly $77 below the national average. While wages in North Carolina have historically been below the nation, the gap today is substantially larger than it was before the Great Recession.
  • Still more North Carolinians out of work than before the Great Recession: There were almost 240,000 North Carolinians looking for work last month, roughly 11,000 more than before the Great Recession.
  • Share of North Carolinians employed has stalled: After making some modest progress since the worst of the Great Recession, the share of North Carolinians who are working has been largely flat for the last several months. This lack of progress is particularly distressing given that North Carolina remains well below the level of employment that was commonplace before the Great Recession. In the mid-2000’s, employment levels reached a peak of about 63 percent. With 58.5 percent of North Carolinians reporting they worked last month, our level of employment remains depressed and has not caught back up with the national average.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Patrick McHugh, Budget & Tax Center Economic Analyst,; Mel Umbarger, Budget & Tax Center Senior Communications Specialist,