North Carolina's employment situation, which had stalled in recent months, has now taken a decided step downward. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today that the state lost 16,500 jobs between April and May on a seasonally-adjusted basis. The big loss follows smaller losses in the preceding two months. The losses were widespread across industries with construction losing 4,800 jobs, professional and business services losing 7,000 jobs, private education and health services losing 2,600 jobs, and leisure and hospitality losing 3,600 jobs.
The state's unemployment rate remained at 9.4 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. The seemingly neutral figure, however, masks some worsening numbers. First, North Carolina's unemployment rate is now the third highest in the nation, trailing only California and Nevada. Second, while the number of unemployed people (people who aren't working but are looking for work) fell by 3,700, the number of people who reported looking for work fell by 9,500.
The situation for the state's unemployed is grimmer still with the expiration of extended unemployment insurance benefits. The loss of those benefits may account for some of the decrease in the number of unemployed--some people may have been looking for work just to continue receiving the benefits.
Meanwhile, our state legislature, which is taking a break today, has found time this week to regulate cold medicine, substitute its radical view for expert scientific judgment, and maintain a $3,500 tax break ($141 million total cost) for wealthy business owners.
Jobs first? Not with this bunch.