RALEIGH (Oct. 20, 2020) — With the pandemic still out of control and no new Federal aid package having passed, North Carolina’s economic recovery has slowed dramatically in recent months. September labor market figures showed a big jump in the number of North Carolinians looking for work, with nearly half of the jobs lost since February still not having been recovered.

“We’re seeing what happens when elected leaders won’t follow the science and don’t provide the kind of help people need to weather an economic crisis,” said Patrick McHugh, Research Manager with the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center. “The failure to get this pandemic under control, to extend Unemployment Insurance benefits, and to support local governments are combining to keep us in an economic hole.”

Economic challenges facing North Carolina include:

  • Recovery has slowed dramatically in recent months: After recovering over 230,000 jobs in May and June, North Carolina has added fewer than 90,000 jobs in the last past three months combined. All told, nearly half of the jobs lost in March and April have not been restored and North Carolina still has nearly 300,000 fewer jobs than before the pandemic.

  • Number of North Carolinians looking for work jumped in September: The number of North Carolinians who reported actively looking for work increased by over 40,000 in September. This increase pushed the unemployment rate back to nearly the level that existed in June and clearly reflects how many North Carolinians are desperate to find jobs that simply aren’t there.

  • Historically low share of North Carolinians are working: The headline rate only captures people who are actively looking for work, so it won’t reveal the true extent of job and income losses for North Carolina families. Only 54.4 percent of North Carolinians were working in September, down from over 59 percent before the COVID-19 outbreak and far below levels that were common throughout most of the 1990s and 2000s.
  • Low-income North Carolinians experiencing the worst recession: While not captured in the headline unemployment figures, job losses have fallen the hardest on North Carolinians with the least financial cushion. Data through mid-August indicate the recession was effectively already over for North Carolinians who are paid over $60,000, while the number of jobs which pay under $27,000 are still down 17 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.

For charts showing the most recent labor data and COVID-19 job data, visit the Budget & Tax Center’s Labor Market page at www.ncjustice.org/labormarket.

For more context on the economic choices facing North Carolina, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s 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 patrick.mchugh@ncjustice.org or 919-856-2183; or Mel Umbarger, Budget & Tax Center Senior Communications Specialist, at mel@ncjustice.org.