RALEIGH (December 18, 2015) — This holiday season will find more North Carolinians looking for work than a year ago. North Carolina’s economy has not achieved a level of growth needed to create enough jobs or improve wages.

The state unemployment rate in November was 5.7 percent, up two tenths of a percentage point from this time last year. Nationwide, the unemployment rate decreased almost a whole point to 5 percent, a drop of almost a full point.

“The North Carolina economy is winding up 2015 much as it began, alive but not kicking.” said Patrick McHugh of the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “North Carolina is squandering this growth cycle. We’ve had more than a half-decade of economic expansion, and wages still aren’t growing appreciably: that’s not a good sign.”

Important trends in the September data also include:

North Carolina pay remains below the national average. Working North Carolinians have seen almost no wage growth during 2015. The gap between average weekly wages in North Carolina and the country has grown from around $55 before the Great Recession to around $80 in November.

Still more North Carolinians out of work than before the Great Recession: There were more than 270,000 North Carolinians looking for work in September, almost 43,000 more than before the Great Recession.
Percentage of North Carolinians employed is still near historic lows, and below the national average: September numbers showed 57.6 percent of North Carolinians were employed. This leaves North Carolina 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. The percent of North Carolinians with a job remains below the national average, as it has been since the Great Recession.
For more context on the economic choices facing North Carolina, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s weekly Prosperity Watch platform.

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