Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The job picture in NC ain't pretty

Some blog posts should come with child warnings.

The monthly labor report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that jobs continue to pass the Tar Heel state by. While the number non-farm jobs nationally grew by about 200,000 on a seasonally-adjusted basis in December, the number of non-farm jobs in North Carolina actually fell slightly, dropping by 4,400.

The first graph below shows North Carolina's employment each month since January 2007.

Seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment (in 000s) in North Carolina from the BLS Current Employment Statistics

The next graph shows the corresponding national figures.
National seasonally-adjusted non-farm employment (in 000s) from the BLS Current Employment Statistics

Employment in North Carolina bottomed out in early 2010 -- the same time as the rest of the country (though the percentage drop in employment was greater in North Carolina). Employment temporarily surged in the state and nationally with the Census in the spring of 2010. Since then, employment in North Carolina has oscillated around a relatively flat trend. Employment grew early this year (the state and national unemployment rates were actually equal in the spring) but fell as the state ended the last fiscal year. The state still hasn't regained the levels of employment from this spring. In contrast, national employment has increased fairly steadily.

One thing that the figures don't show is population growth. Population increased both nationally and in North Carolina, but the growth has been faster in North Carolina. This means that the state's anemic job performance is even more immiserating than these graphs suggest.

2011 clearly ended badly. Let's hope that 2012 is brighter. North Carolina has a lot of catching up to do.