MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina’s jobs recovery still lags nation

RALEIGH (March 30, 2012) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.9% percent in February according to new data released by the NC Employment Security Division, but despite this improvement the state still lags the national economy in terms of job creation.

Although the state’s unemployment rate fell from 10.2% to 9.9% in February, the national rate fell to 8.3%. Furthermore, only 57.6% of North Carolinians were employed, compared to 58.6% of all Americans, suggesting that the state’s labor market recovery is significantly lagging behind the nation as a whole. A likely contributor to North Carolina’s lower employment gains is the anemic rate of private sector job creation. Since January, the state only generated 2,700 jobs in the private sector, while public sector job creation improved by 5,400 jobs, according to seasonally adjusted estimates.

Despite this single-month increase in total government jobs, the long-term trend of public sector employment has held down the total employment picture for North Carolina’s workers. North Carolina would need to double last month’s total job gains in order to meet the 19,000 monthly job growth target to reach pre-recession employment in three years.

“While job creation gains have been unmistakable this year, the state is still clearly lagging behind the national average in terms of employment growth,” said Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst with the NC Budget & Tax Center. “Things are clearly getting better, but the modest improvement we see in these numbers still suggests that we’re not doing enough at the state level to spur job creation and higher employment.”

Year over year the industries experiencing the largest gains in jobs were education and health services, professional and business services and leisure and hospitality services. Among selected service industries with job gains were accommodation and food service, educational services and retail trade. State projections for potential job growth from 2010 to 2020 suggest that these industries will continue to lead job growth in the state but provide wages that do not meet the Living Income Standard.

“As North Carolina seeks to create jobs to meet the demand for work in communities across the state, it is essential that these jobs be good, quality jobs that can support families and generate economic security,” said Alexandra Sirota, Director of the Budget and Tax Center.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst, Budget & Tax Center, allan@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2151; Jeff Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, jeff@ncjustice.org, 503.551.3615