RALEIGH (Sept. 20, 2019) — Employment figures released today show continued signs of economic weakness in 2019. As the global economy slows down and companies become increasingly concerned about the economic outlook, employment growth in 2019 has slowed to a snail’s pace.

“The wheels haven’t come off, but the tires are definitely running flat,” said Patrick McHugh, Senior Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “This pace of job growth won’t fill the hole left behind by the Great Recession, let alone put us on a path to broadly shared prosperity.”

Economic challenges facing North Carolina include:

  • Job growth has slowed in 2019: Employment growth in 2019 has slowed across the country, and the drop off compared to the strongest periods of expansion since the Great Recession has been particularly dramatic here in North Carolina. Between 2014 and 2016, employment growth in North Carolina regularly exceeded 2 percent a year, still somewhat modest by historical standards, but significantly more robust than what we’ve seen this year. Annual job growth has hovered around 1.5 percent throughout all of 2019, roughly half of the most recent high point of growth set in February 2015.
  • North Carolina back in line with national employment growth: After several years of posting job growth that usually exceeded the national rate (along with several neighboring states in the Southeast), North Carolina has fallen back in line with the national trend. North Carolina’s year-over-year employment growth for August came in at 1.6 percent, slightly higher than the national 1.4 percent, but following a trend all year of North Carolina being within a few tenths of a percentage point above or below the national rate.
  • Unemployment rate in North Carolina moving higher than the nation: After posting headline unemployment rates consistently level with or below the national rate in the later part of 2018, this year has seen North Carolina’s rate surge higher than the nation’s. North Carolina’s unemployment rate has increased throughout 2019, going from 3.8 percent in January to 4.2 percent over the past three months, while the national rate has gone down from 4 percent at the start of the year to 3.7 percent last month.
  • Share of North Carolinians with a job still below pre-recession levels and the national average: North Carolina still has not recovered to the level of employment that existed before the Great Recession. In December of 2007, just before the onset of the Great Recession, 62.1 percent of North Carolinians had a job, a level of employment that had been the norm throughout the early 2000s. In August however, only 59.3 percent of North Carolinians were employed. While the share of people working nationwide is also below pre-recession levels, the gap is not as wide as in North Carolina.

For more context on the economic choices facing North Carolina, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s weekly Prosperity Watch report.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Patrick McHugh, Budget & Tax Center Senior Policy Analyst, at patrick.mchugh@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2183.

The nonpartisan Budget & Tax Center is a project of the NC Justice Center, which works to eliminate poverty in North Carolina by ensuring every household in the state has access to the resources, services and fair treatment it needs to achieve economic security.