Contrary to recent claims that North Carolina’s job creation rates over the last year have been out-of-the-ordinary, the Tarheel state experienced the same sluggish job creation rate as the rest of the nation over the last year. As a result, recent improvements the state’s economy are simply the result of improvements in the overall national economy, rather than special policy decisions in North Carolina.
As the national economy improves, we would expect North Carolina’s economy to improve as well. If North Carolina’s economy were performing in some kind of out-of-the-ordinary way, we would expect to see significantly faster employment growth here in the Tarheel State than we do nationally. But we don’t.
In the last year, from January 2013 to January 2014, North Carolina created 70,000 jobs—a 1.7 percent rate of employment growth. Over the same period, the national economy created 2.2 million jobs—also a 1.7 percent rate of job growth (see the following figure).
Additionally, the last year of job growth in North Carolina doesn’t look that special when compared to the state’s performance in previous years. The state created 70,000 jobs since last January, only 4,000 more than jobs than were created over the same period from 2012 to 2013. But this was also 4,000 fewer jobs than were created in over the same period from 2011 to 2012, suggesting that overall employment growth remains stagnant.
The state’s sluggish rates of job creation are why so few unemployed workers in North Carolina are actually moving into employment, but instead are dropping out of the labor force. There just aren’t enough jobs to meet the needs of jobless workers. Until North Carolina’s economy can create enough jobs to meet the needs of the state’s unemployed workers, true progress in the labor market will remain elusive.