MEDIA RELEASE: North Carolina Employers Slash Payrolls

North Carolina Employers Slash Payrolls
Justice Center expert: March job numbers "abysmal"

RALEIGH (April 17, 2009) -- North Carolina employers shed 41,300 payroll positions in March, according to data released this morning by the Employment Security Commission. This makes March the second-worst month for job losses since the start of the recession.
"The March payroll numbers are abysmal," said John Quinterno, research associate at the NC Budget & Tax Center. "With the exception of the government, every major industry group slashed payrolls. Only three states lost more jobs than did North Carolina in March, and none lost more in percentage terms."  

Private-sector employers eliminated 41,500 positions in March. Net losses occurred in every industry with the greatest numerical declines occurring in professional and business services (-10,100), followed by manufacturing (-9,200, predominately in durable goods manufacturing) and construction (-8,500). Relative to payroll sizes, construction employment fell the most, down 4.1 percent. These private-sector losses were offset slightly by an increase in government -- primarily federal government -- employment.

"Job losses accelerated in March," added Quinterno."Since the start of the recession, North Carolina has recorded a net loss of 214,000 jobs. Some 43 percent of the jobs losses have occurred since January, and 81 percent have occurred since last September."

Despite the sizable job losses, the March unemployment rate ticked up only slightly, rising to 10.8 percent from 10.7 percent in February. Last month, an additional 2,417 individuals joined the ranks of the unemployed, bringing the statewide total to 492,512.

"The monthly change in the unemployment rate was the smallest one recorded since the start of the recession, but it in no way means that the labor market is improving," explained Quinterno. "The state unemployment rate has risen for 15 months and has reached the highest level on modern record." 

The minimal change in the unemployment rate likely is tied to the contraction of the state's labor force. In March, 31,000 individuals left the labor force, many probably due to their difficulty in finding work. While many such individuals are effectively jobless, they are excluded from the monthly tally. If even half of those individuals were both jobless and included in the survey, the state unemployment rate would have equaled 11.1 percent. 

"There are no green shoots of hope in today's state employment report," says Quinterno. "North Carolina's labor market is simply unraveling."

For More Information, Contact: John Quinterno, 919-856-3185 (office); 919-622-2392 (mobile).
The NC Budget & Tax Center provides timely, accessible and credible analysis of state and local budget and tax issues with a special focus on the impact on low- and moderate-income North Carolinians.