While North Carolina has certainly turned a corner in job creation after six years of an official economic recovery, it has not been sharp enough to generate the number or quality jobs needed in most North Carolina counties. As we have written about previously in this space, the jobs that have been created since 2009 have been largely in low-wage occupations and concentrated in certain areas of the state.
Jobless workers continue to face significant barriers to employment in many North Carolina communities. These barriers begin with the fact that there are still too few job openings for those seeking employment. In more than 80 counties, there are more jobless workers than there are job openings according to analysis by the Department of Commerce of job postings. In 16 counties, there are 3 or more jobless workers per job opening meaning that if that job opening were filled there would still be two without employment.
As jobless workers seek work in this context, they need to travel long distances to reach new labor markets and, or pursue retraining that takes time and money. As a result, these jobless workers are out of the labor market for longer periods of time.
Despite the official economic recovery there has not been a statistically significant decline in the share of jobless workers who have been out of work for 26 weeks or more. In North Carolina, 1 in 3 jobless workers would be considered long-term unemployed.
The persistent lack of job opportunities in many communities is holding back a full recovery and the opportunities to advance particularly rural economic revitalization efforts but most importantly to ensure that the economy works for everyone across the state.
Alexandra Forter Sirota is the Director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center.