RALEIGH (June 17, 2016) — Official labor market data for May show that North Carolina is not a national economic growth leader. Employers reported roughly the same level of job growth over the last year (NC=1.8 percent, US=1.7 percent) and the drop in unemployment was identical (-0.7 percent).
“North Carolina’s economic performance is fundamentally rooted in larger dynamics, not policy decisions that have been made here in Raleigh,” said Patrick McHugh, a Budget & Tax Center Policy Analyst at the NC Justice Center. “Arguing that North Carolina has the best economy in the country is untrue and distracts from the real economic challenges that we still face.”
Other key findings from the May labor market data include:
  • North Carolina pay remains below the national average: The average weekly paycheck in North Carolina came in roughly $65 below the national average. The gap has narrowed somewhat recently, but is still substantially larger than before the recession.
  • Still more North Carolinians out of work than before the Great Recession: There were more than 250,000 North Carolinians looking for work last month, roughly 22,000 more than before the Great Recession.
  • Share of North Carolinians employed still below pre-recession levels and the national rate: 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 58.6 percent of North Carolinians reporting they worked last month, our level of employment remains below the national average.
For more on why it is misleading to claim that North Carolina has the fastest-growing economy in the country, see our recent post.
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.mchugh@ncjustice.org; Mel Umbarger, BTC Senior Communications Specialist, mel@ncjustice.org.