Prosperity Watch (Issue 62, Number 1)

June 7, 2016
North Carolina still cannot be given a clean bill of economic health. Job growth remains concentrated in a few parts of the state, leaving many people looking for work that doesn’t exist in their communities. With economic opportunity scarce in much of North Carolina, it’s clear that policy choices made over the last several years have not addressed the deepest challenges facing our state.
North Carolina’s economy remains riddled with areas of high unemployment. As shown here, only 21 counties across the state had more job openings than job seekers in April. Almost a quarter of North Carolina’s counties have more than two unemployed people for every position that needs to be filled, and more than half of the counties in the state still have fewer jobs than existed before the Great Recession.
The pace of job creation in many communities will not close the gap between those who are seeking work and the number of jobs available anytime soon. Forty counties in our state failed to keep up with the national rate of employment growth over the last year. Ten counties actually lost jobs in April compared to the same time a year ago, not what one would expect to see during a generally good year for employment growth nationwide.
Analysis of local labor market conditions demonstrates that claims of tax cuts driving job creation are false.  In reality, austerity has dampened economic growth potential and far more targeted policies are needed to ensure that every community can thrive.