MEDIA RELEASE: Jobless numbers for North Carolina show working families still struggling

 Jobless numbers for North Carolina show working families still strugglingAnalyst: with some signs of an opportunity to stabilize the economy, this is a critical time for lawmakers to invest in the state's working families

RALEIGH (April 16, 2010) -- North Carolina's unemployment rate decreased slightly in March, according to data released today by the State Employment Commission, but joblessness at a rate above 11 percent continues to exact a heavy toll on Tar Heel workers.

Working families continue to struggle with the ongoing recession, said Alexandra Forter Sirota, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center. The slight drop in the unemployment rate is promising, said Sirota, and policymakers must take great care to make wise investments in North Carolina's people if the state is to achieve real recovery.

"At this critical stage, state and federal lawmakers should take the essential steps to help working families and get the economy on the path to recovery," she said. "New pro-jobs policies are absolutely necessary to help jobless North Carolinians support their families and get the state back on the right economic path."

In March, North Carolina's unemployment rate dipped by one tenth of one percent, from 11.2 percent in February to 11.1 percent in March. This is a slight change from last month and represents about 3,300 new jobs.

"While it's encouraging that the economy created rather than lost jobs, the change is not a statistically significant one," said Sirota.

With consumers and companies still wary about spending money, economic recovery depends on wise state policies that infuse capital into North Carolina -- especially communities hit hard by the recesssion.

On a federal level, Sirota said, Congress should pass the Local Jobs For America Act -- a bill Gov. Beverly Perdue came out in support of this week. Public policy helping to create jobs is an essential tool to create recovery, she said.

State legislators should consider wage subsidy programs for private employers that would forestall future layoffs, helping workers and protecting the fragile recovery. Employers who receive state subsidies should also be given incentives to hire workers who have been unemployed over the long term, Sirota said.

Alexandra Forter Sirota,; Jeff Shaw, director of communications, 503.551.3615,