Friday, May 18, 2012

NC employment becalmed

Like a schooner trapped in the doldrums, North Carolina's employment situation remains becalmed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that for the third month in a row, there was essentially no change in the number of jobs on a seasonally-adjusted basis in North Carolina. Payroll employment in the state actually fell by 1,300, with a small gain in professional and business service jobs being offset by losses in manufacturing and other sectors.

The state's unemployment rate eased from 9.7 percent to 9.4 percent on a seasonally-adjusted basis. However, nearly every bit of that change was due to North Carolinians leaving the labor force. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, 12,700 fewer people reported being unemployed (that is, reported being out of work but looking); however, 11,200 of that decline was due to a decrease in the number of people looking for work.

For the second month in a row, there isn't a single positive thing that you can point to in the employment report.

Becalming was a fate reserved for sailing ships that were wholly at the mercy of the wind. Our ship of state is actually blessed with a large and powerful engine in the form of state and local government employment. The Republican legislature decided last year to shut that engine off. Gov. Perdue has offered a budget that would restart that engine by putting teachers and others back to work.

This ship can and should start moving again. The ship's crew can't take much more of this.