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 – North Carolina Department of Commerce officials say the state is ahead of schedule in paying off its debt to the federal government.
“It’s been a good year in terms of paying off the debt,” says Division of Employment Security assistant secretary Dale Folwell. “We’re almost $100 million ahead of expectation.”
That’s important, he says, because “as long as this debt’s outstanding, employers in North Carolina–or future employers who are thinking about coming here–have to pay a higher federal unemployment tax.”
Following the recessions of 2001 and 2008, North Carolina borrowed heavily from the federal government to pay state unemployment benefits. By January of this year, the resulting debt had reached $2.5 billion—third highest in the nation behind only New York and California.
Governor Pat McCrory made paying off the debt a priority, and researchers estimated that the debt would be reduced to about $2 billion by the end of the year—but Folwell says it’s now even less than that, about $1.87 billion.
The focus on debt reduction came at the expense of other programs, but Folwell says the debt puts North Carolina at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to attracting new businesses or retaining existing ones, so paying it off is important—and it’s equally important to prevent it from happening again.
“Paying off the debt–we can’t stop there,” he says. “We have to build a surplus, so that no one ever gets in this situation again.”
If the latest projections hold, the state will pay off the debt in full by November of 2015.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/nc-ahead-schedule-paying-federal-debt/
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.
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/
ORANGE COUNTY – Not long ago, Orange County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state. But, according to the newest report by the North Carolina Civilian Labor Force, we have taken another hit.
Orange County’s unemployment rate rose to 6.5 percent in June, compared to 5.9 percent in May. However, at this same time last year, the county’s unemployment rate was 7.1 percent.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce says the state’s unemployment rate was at 9.3 percent in June, with the unemployment rate increasing in 81 counties. All of the state’s metropolitan areas experienced lower employment.
Those unemployed increased by around 16,100 people, bringing the number of unemployed workers in the state up to around 439,400.
These numbers are not seasonally adjusted.
Orange County had the lowest unemployment rate in the state for six months until November 2012. It is now ranked third, behind Currituck and Chatham Counties, who are first and second respectively.
The full unemployment report can be read here.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/oc-unemployment-increases-in-june/
RALEIGH — Orange County’s 5.9 percent (not seasonally adjusted) unemployment rate for the month of May was not good enough to top Currituck County’s state-best 5.7 percent figure, according to a report from the NC Department of Commerce released Tuesday.
The recent slide ends the area’s six month reign on top. Orange County had boasted the state’s lowest unemployment rate since Nov. 2012.
In April, Orange County held a state-leading 5.3 percent unemployment rate. However, the 0.6 percent spike in May was not uncharacteristic for many counties across the state as unemployment rates increased in 87 of NC’s counties.
However, among North Carolina’ Metro areas, Durham-Chapel Hill still holds the number one spot at a rate of 6.8 percent. The statewide rate currently sits at 8.9 percent.
Click the link below to view the full report: