North Carolina’s current job creation rate is slightly higher than the national average. But it’s still not enough to provide employment to everyone who needs it.
Our state has consistently lagged behind the rest of the nation since the start of the Great Recession, despite historically outperforming the U.S. in the number of employed people as a share of the population over age 16.
Recent gains by North Carolina are just not enough to catch up to the rest of the nation. It’s also important to put our state’s job creation rates in the broader context of our current time period and how much progress is needed: job creation over the past year may have been above the national average, but since the start of the recession, North Carolina has created jobs at a rate of 2.2 percent while the nation has done so at 2.8 percent. Over the past six months, North Carolina’s job creation has performed at or below the national rate.
The number of people with jobs compared to the state’s population is one inidcator that offers important insight into how many jobs we need to create to keep employment levels high relative to our growing population. According to this employment-to-population measure, 54.7 percent of working age people in the Tar Heel state were employed in August of this year, compared to 56.7 percent in the nation as a whole. 158,904 more North Carolinians would need jobs to reach the national average.
Despite modest private sector job creation, too many workers cannot find work. When one compares Nroth Carolina to the national economy using a broader and more descriptive range of measures than just the official unemployment measure, the real numbers show that North Carolina continues to underperform.
Alexandra Forter Sirota is the Director of the N.C. Budget and Tax Center.