Across the nation and here in North Carolina, the unemployment rate has been in decline, a fact that has many cautiously optimistic about the economy.
But U.S. Congressman David Price (D) of Chapel Hill says not so fast.
“Has the number of jobs, and people filling jobs, actually increased?” he says. “The answer is no.”
And he says that means federal and state government still has to be active in aiding both the economy and those individuals struggling to find a job.
“We’re still stalled here in this economy – you still have three people seeking (work) for every job that’s available – and so people still need this support system to go after these jobs,” he told WCHL last week, shortly after attending a pair of roundtables on unemployment at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh.
“These folks are really, really wanting to work…(and) I’m hopeful that eventually they’ll succeed, but the notion that you help them by pulling the safety net out from under them is just preposterous.”
At those roundtables, Price met with instructors and students in the school’s Human Resources Development program, which provides career advice and job skills training for students who need it.
“This is a group of people who have good training (and) good job backgrounds,” he says. “The group that I talked to was remarkable in that respect – but yet also remarkable in just not being able to penetrate this job market.”
Price says that’s why he’s currently urging both the federal government and the state government to extend unemployment benefits for those out of work. North Carolina legislators cut unemployment benefits last year, a move that also disqualified the state from receiving federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation as well. And at the federal level, Congress too is currently debating whether to extend unemployment benefits.
Price, along with a majority of Democrats, says it should be done.
“I don’t think there’s any question (about that),” he says. “Never – never – in a period of unemployment this severe have benefits been yanked at this point.”
Republicans in North Carolina point to the state’s declining unemployment rate as evidence that cutting benefits has motivated people to get back to work. But Price says the attendees at last week’s forum said otherwise—and he says the numbers seem to indicate that if anything, cutting benefits has actually motivated people to drop out of the job market altogether.
“The unemployment program requires you to seek work and keeps you plugged in to the employment security system,” he says. “One economist (at the roundtable) who has studied the trends said that the number of people seeking work actually went down when the unemployment benefits were discontinued…
“In other words, far from making people go out and look for a job more diligently, it seemed to have the opposite effect: it just discouraged people and caused them to drop out.”
North Carolina’s labor force shrank in 2013 by about 111,000 workers; about half of that came after the benefit cuts took effect in June. The state only added about 13,000 new jobs in 2013, but it did add more than 41,000 in the second half of the year after a drop from January to June.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/rep-price-cutting-benefits-doesnt-cut-unemployment/
RALEIGH – The North Carolina unemployment rate took another dive in the final month of 2013 as 6.9 percent of the workforce claimed jobless benefits, according to the Department of Commerce.
That’s half-a-percent better than November 2013 and is nearly catching up with the national average, which sat at 6.7 percent in December.
December’s rate is also 2.5-percent better than the year ago.
However, the figures release still points to an economy that is struggling to rebound. While the number of people claiming unemployment decreased by more than 124,000 individuals over the year, the number of people employed only increased by more than 13,000. From November to December 2013, the numbers were a little more even at around 20,000 each.
To see the complete data release, click here.
The county-by-county unemployment rate is scheduled to be released February 5.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/nc-jobless-rates-tumbles-signs-remain-sluggish-recovery/
RALEIGH - Your local economy is already one of the best in the state, but President Barack Obama traveled to N.C. State University Wednesday afternoon to announce the future of American jobs.
“I’m pleased to announce America’s newest high-tech manufacturing hub, which is going to be focused on the next generation of power electronics, is going to be based right here in Raleigh, North Carolina,” President Obama said.
That announcement received a standing ovation in N.C. State’s J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.
***Listen to President Obama’s Remarks at N.C. State***
The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute is the second of its kind. The first was started more than a year ago in Youngstown, Ohio and focuses on developing 3D printing technology.
President Obama said Raleigh-Durham’s innovation institute will focus on energy efficiency through this partnership of universities and businesses.
“Bringing together leading companies, universities, and federal research all together under one roof,” President Obama said. “Folks at this hub are going to develop what are called wide band gap semiconductors.”
The President likely addressed many engineers as he pointed out that he was on the campus of a university with one of the largest undergraduate engineering programs in the country.
He said the wide band gap semiconductors will revolutionize energy conservation.
“They’re special because they lose up to 90 percent less power,” President Obama said. “They can operate at higher temperatures than normal semiconductors. So that means they can make everything from cell phones to industrial motors to electric cars smaller, faster, and cheaper. There are going to (still be) applications for the traditional semiconductors, but these can be focused on certain areas that will vastly improve energy efficiency (and) vastly improve the quality of our lives.”
President Obama said this is just the start of where he wants to see the United States go with these partnerships. A year ago in his State of the Union address, he told congress he wanted to see bills passed to allow for 15 institutes in the U.S. Now he says he wants congress to approve the funding for 45.
“Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate introduced bills that would get this going,” President Obama said. “That’s good. But they haven’t passed the bills yet. So, I want to encourage them to continue to pass the bills that would create 45 of these manufacturing hubs. In the meantime, I’m directing my administration to move forward where we can on our own.”
While the Triangle has the best unemployment rate in North Carolina, the state itself if still struggling. It currently ranks 35th in the U.S. at 7.4 percent as of November.
However, President Obama says this will institute will create job opportunities and provide a major boost to the state’s economy, and he says he hopes that it will spread nationwide.
“This can be a breakthrough year for America,” President Obama said. “The pieces are all there to start bringing back more of the jobs that we’ve lost over the past decade.”
And he says he’s seeing signs of other countries sending jobs back to American and that he doesn’t want to miss the opportunity.
“A lot of companies around the world are starting to talk about bringing jobs back to the United States, brining jobs back to places like North Carolina—partly because we’ve got cheap energy costs; we’ve got the best workers in the world; we’ve got the best university systems in the world; and we’ve got the largest market in the world,” President Obama said. “So, the pieces are there to restore some of the ground that the middle class has lost in recent decades.”
President Obama kept his focus on the economy, job creation, and the new innovation institute. He did not mention Democratic Senator Kay Hagan during his time at N.C. State. She’s running for re-election this year and has distanced herself from the President in recent months.
***Correction: President Obama mentioned Senator Hagan at the beginning of his speech by thanking her for the hard work she’s doing in Washington and that he was sorry she couldn’t make the trip.
She told the media that she felt it was important to stay in Washington while the Senate was in session. However, the Replublican party has criticized her for her support of President Obama, especially during the struggling times of Obamacare and its website troubles.
However, Sen. Hagan has tried to show that she wants to keep the president honest when she asked the Obama Administration for a full investigation of HealthCare.gov. She also asked the administration to extend the filing period for Americans since there were many problems.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/president-obama-introduces-innovation-institute-n-c-state/
MEBANE — The world’s largest retail store chain and a financial company that got the biggest U.S. government bailout five years ago are opening new North Carolina operations that expect to employ nearly 700 workers.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s office said Tuesday Wal-Mart Stores Inc. plans to open a grocery distribution center in AlamanceCounty that is forecast to employ about 450. State and local governments offered the retail giant more than $9 million in tax breaks, land, roads and other incentives if it meets job and investment projections.
Insurance giant American International Group plans a Charlotte software design, development and testing center employing 230 people. AIG could get more than $5 million in government sweeteners.
An Israel-based textile maker says it’s adding 65 jobs at Spuntech Industries Inc. in Roxboro.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/wal-mart-aig-say-plan-nearly-700-nc-jobs/
RALEIGH – Two months before your federal government went into a partial shutdown, county unemployment rates were still improving, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he’s concerned this shutdown, no matter how long it lasts, will hurt the economy that is slowly improving.
In August, Orange County’s unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) decreased half a percent compared to July, falling from 6.2 to 5.7 percent. Additionally, compared to a year ago, the county’s jobless rate fell 0.9 percent.
Chatham County still comes in second at 5.4 percent to the state’s leader in unemployment, Currituck, at 4.1 percent. From July to August this year, Currituck County’s jobless rate fell 1.2 percent.
For the county-by-county breakdown, click here. North Carolina’s unemployment rate for September is scheduled to be released October 22.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/august-unemployment-takes-big-dive-county-by-county/
RALEIGH – North Carolina’s unemployment rate continues its steady decline and has reached a more than four-and-a-half-year low at 8.7 percent.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce announced Friday that the state’s unemployment rate saw a decrease of 0.2 percent from July to August. That followed the nation’s trend which fell from 7.4 to 7.3 percent.
Compared to a year ago, the state’s unemployment rate fell 0.9 percent from 9.6 to 8.7.
Employment increased in the state by more than 3,500 jobs in the month of August. The number of people claiming unemployment fell by more than 8,500.
County-by-county numbers for August are scheduled to be released October 2. In July, Orange County had the state’s third-lowest unemployment rate; Chatham County was second behind Currituck.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/state-unemployment-continues-steady-decline/
RALEIGH – Unemployment in Chatham and Orange counties improved just before the start of the new school year as the two areas are second and third in the state, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
Both counties dropped 0.2 percent in July as Orange fell to 6.2 percent and Chatham fell to 6.1 percent. Currituck County remains the county with the lowest unemployment statewide at 5.3 percent.
Compared to the state rate of 8.9 percent, which saw an increase in July, the Triangle remains a strong area for jobs. Wake County saw a decrease of 0.1 percent to 7.2 in July; Durham County remained at 7.5 percent.
Compared to a year ago, Orange County is a whole point better from 7.2 to 6.2 percent; Chatham saw the same pattern from 7.1 to 6.1.
For the full report from the Labor and Economic Analysis Division, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/triangle-unemployment-continues-to-fall/
RALEIGH – North Carolina’s unemployment rate saw its first increase since January with July’s rate at 8.9 percent.
The Department of Commerce, Labor and Economic Analysis Division announced Monday that the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment figures didn’t follow the pattern of the national trend as the U.S. rate fell 0.2 percent to 7.6.
However, compared to July 2012, unemployment numbers decreased by more than 36,500 workers and employed workers increased by nearly 15,000.
County-by-county unemployment figures are scheduled to be released Wednesday, August 28.
The Governor says the bill would have allowed businesses to overlook a greater number of employees and whether or not they are legal citizens. He says, “Every job an illegal immigrant takes is one less job available for a legal North Carolina citizen.”
Seasonal workers are currently allowed 90 days of employment without going through the E-Verify process to check their citizenship. The bill Gov. McCrory vetoed would have extended the seasonal worker definition to nearly nine months, which the Governor says concerns him because it would open areas other than agriculture to the lack of review of employees.
***The bill would have created a study of whether or not to extend the seasonal worker limit past 90 days.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/veto-no-2-seasonal-work-limit-remains-90-days/
WASHINGTON – U.S. employers added 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March. But the gains were enough to lower the unemployment rate to a 4 1/2 -year low of 7.4 percent.
The Labor Department says the rate fell from 7.6 percent in June. But that was one of the few good signs in an otherwise lackluster report.
Fewer jobs were added in the previous two months than earlier estimated. Americans worked fewer hours and their pay dipped. The figures suggest weak economic growth may be making businesses cautious about hiring.
The Federal Reserve will pay particularly close attention to the figures as it decides whether to scale back its $85 billion monthly bond purchases later this year.http://chapelboro.com/news/us-employers-add-162k-jobs-rate-falls-to-7-4-pct/