More than 60 N.C. counties had fewer jobs in September than before Great Recession

RALEIGH (Oct. 28, 2020) — Labor market figures for September released today show the ongoing economic harm of COVID-19 impacting communities across North Carolina. Far from experiencing a quick recovery, the lack of ongoing government support for families and communities struggling to cope with the effects of COVID-19 is deepening the economic harm.

“The latest data make it crystal clear we won’t bounce back from this crisis without policymakers focusing on what communities are dealing with on the ground,” said Patrick McHugh, Research Manager with the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center. “With the federal government pulling back on aid to families, the recovery has stagnated in recent months, leaving most local communities across North Carolina in a deep hole.”

For daily updates on the number of Unemployment Insurance claims and ongoing analysis of the economic impact of COVID-19, visit

Economic challenges facing North Carolina include:

  • COVID-19 has erased all job gains, or deepened losses, since the start of the Great Recession in a majority of counties: More than 60 of North Carolina’s 100 counties had fewer jobs in September of this year than before the Great Recession. Many parts of the state had never recovered all of the jobs that disappeared Great Recession, so the losses during COVID-19 are further compounding a long-term problem. In many other counties, all or nearly all of the jobs that had been created since 2009 were wiped out in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • North Carolina’s regional employment engines have seen the worst employment losses. Cities across North Carolina that often serve as the employment hubs for their entire regions have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Regional job centers that have experienced some of the worst declines since February include Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton (-10.0%), Asheville (-10.0%), Raleigh (-8.8%), Fayetteville (-8.6%), Durham-Chapel Hill (-8.5%), Greenville (-8.4%), Goldsboro (-8.3%), Wilmington (-8.3%), Rocky Mount (-8.2%), Greensboro-High Point (-8.0%), Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia (-7.5%), Winston-Salem (-7.5%), New Bern (-7.0%), Burlington (-6.6%), Jacksonville (-6.2%).

For charts showing the most recent labor data, including the context of COVID-19 effects, visit the Budget & Tax Center’s Labor Market page.

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

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. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT Patrick McHugh, Budget & Tax Center Research Manager, at or 919-856-2183; or Mel Umbarger, Senior Communications Specialist, at