RALEIGH (February 5, 2020) — New local labor market data show that 2019 did not resolve the long-term economic challenges facing many of North Carolina’s communities. While a handful of urban centers posted strong job gains, large swaths of rural North Carolina did not share in that growth, and some even lost employment over the past year.

“Anyone who says our economy is booming just isn’t looking at the whole picture,” said Patrick McHugh, Senior Economic Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. “A lot of communities never recovered from the Great Recession, and many have seen little or no job growth in the past year.”

Here are a few of the indicators that show an unbalanced recovery:

  • Concentrated employment growth: Wake and Mecklenburg counties alone accounted for nearly one-third of the net job growth in the past year and over half of all the jobs added since the Great Recession. Nearly 70 percent of all net jobs added since the Great Recession occurred in just five counties: Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Union, and Cabarrus.
  • Nearly half of North Carolina counties have not recovered. Nearly half of North Carolina’s counties (46 of 100) still had fewer jobs at the end of last year than before the Great Recession.
  • Many communities saw little or no job growth in the past year. Job growth has been negative or incredibly small over the past year in many North Carolina communities, particularly in more rural parts of the state. Wilkes, Swain, Avery, McDowell, Mitchell, Martin, Wilson, Cherokee, and Washington counties all lost jobs between December 2018 and the end of last year. Moreover, 40 of North Carolina’s counties added fewer than 300 jobs over the same yearlong period.

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 Economic Analyst at Patrick.McHugh@ncjustice.org – 919-856-2183 or Mel Umbarger, Senior Communications Specialist at mel@ncjustice.org

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.