RALEIGH – North Carolina Budget and Tax Center public policy analyst, Allan Freyer says the month-to-month comparison of the unemployment rate doesn’t tell the whole story of North Carolina’s current economic condition.
“The 15,000 workers that are no longer considered unemployed didn’t move into jobs; they didn’t move into employment,” Freyer says. “If they had, we would have seen the number of employed workers in North Carolina go up.”
From March to April this year, the number of unemployed workers dropped by 15,259. However, the number of employed workers didn’t increase by more than 15,000, in fact it also dropped by 4,188.
Freyer says the numbers are a little more disappointing than a 0.3 decrease in the unemployment rate.
The total labor force, as calculated by the Department of Commerce, is the pool of prime age workers who have a job or want one.
“And it’s now actually at the lowest level since July 2012,” Freyer says. “It erased almost nine months’ worth of gains. And, even more troubling is that the total number of employed people in North Carolina also dropped to the lowest level since October 2012.”
The unemployment rate does show signs of recovery, though. The year-to-year comparison is the best measure and shows that in April, North Carolina’s labor force increased by more than 13,000 people, the unemployment rate decreased by more than 21,000 and the employment rate increased by just more than 35,000.
Freyer says it’s not a bad thing to look at the unemployment rate to measure the economic condition, but it needs to be used as just one of the calculating tools. Another one of those tools is called the employment to population ratio.
“It measure the percent of your total population that’s employed,” Freyer says.
In April, 57 percent of the North Carolina’s population was employed; 58.6 percent of the nation’s population was employed.
Again, that can’t be the only tool used as it measures the entire population and not just the labor force.