UNC Professor Dies Following Assault And Robbery Near Campus

North Carolina’s Job Recovery Remains Sluggish

North Carolina’s unemployment numbers for June were released last Friday, and the rate remained at 6.4 percent – the same as the month before.

Jobs are being added, according to economists. So why are the numbers flat?

“Now we’re seeing the flip side of what we observed before,” said Professor of Economics at UNC-Chapel-Hill Patrick Conway. “More jobs are being created, but the unemployment rate is staying the same, or maybe even going up in the past couple of months. And that’s because people who dropped out of the labor force because they couldn’t find a job and they got discouraged saw the increase in the number of hires and now they’ve come back.”

The previous situation he referred to is the period in North Carolina last year that saw unemployment drop from 8.8 percent when Republican Gov. Pat McCrory took office, to 8.1 percent in July, and steadily downward through the end of the year. It settled at 6.4 percent in May.

Conway spoke to the News & Observer’s Rob Christensen about that period for a recent commentary. In his piece, Christensen threw cold water on a Fox Business New anchor’s speculation that McCrory could run for president in 2016, by touting on that dramatic drop in the unemployment rate.

Here’s Conway again:

“What we observed was a large drop in the unemployment rate,” said Conway, “but at the same time, we observed very little growth in jobs.”

Other economists back him up on that. John Quinterno of the Chapel Hill economic research firm South by North Strategies told Bloomberg News that the labor force contracted late last year by around 95,000 people.

Conway said that people are now returning to the workforce, as defined by labor statistics. That means a lot of them are just looking for jobs again. That, said Conway, has kept the unemployment rate flat even as actual employment numbers are rising.

Then, there’s the matter of who’s even hiring these days.

“That’s been somewhat of a disappointment,” said Conway. “I can’t speak to the most recent month, but in previous months, the largest growth in employment was in jobs that pay fairly low wages – so, hospitality, or retail jobs.”

And a lot of people are taking part-time jobs, said Conway.

According to figures he supplied, the real median hourly wage in North Carolina hit its peak in 2010 at $13.20, and has declined every year since.

It’s currently at $12.87 per hour.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/north-carolinas-job-recovery-remains-sluggish/

NC In June: Fewer Employed, Jobless Rate Flat

More than 8,500 fewer people in North Carolina were employed in June compared to May, although the state’s jobless rate remained flat, according to the state Department of Commerce.

North Carolina’s 6.4 percent seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June is now 0.3 percent higher than the national average and ranks the state tied for 32nd with Alaska. Bordering states South Carolina and Virginia are tied at 17th with 5.3 percent, Tennessee at 36th with 6.6 percent, and Georgia at 44th with 7.4 percent.

Unemployment claims in North Carolina fell by more than 2,100 people from May to June. Over the year, the number fell by more than 89,000 people, dropping the jobless rate from 8.3 percent in June 2013 to 6.4 percent this year.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate saw a small increase in May from its lowest point of 6.2 percent in April. That marked a low of more than five years, dating back to the start of the Great Recession.

County-by-county unemployment rates in North Carolina are scheduled to release July 30. To see the full breakdown of the state’s unemployment rate, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/june-fewer-employed-jobless-rate-flat/

Slow Job Recovery for NC Metros

North Carolina unemployment rates in the metro areas may be steadily decreasing, but not quite fast enough to make up for the losses suffered from the “Great Recession.”

The Division of Employment Security stated in a recent press release that 10 of the state’s 14 metro areas have not yet reclaimed the jobs that were lost over the course of the recession. Six of these metro areas will take more than a decade to create enough jobs to return to the numbers they had given their current employment growth rates.

“This is really the most important measuring stick for every jobs report: are we creating enough jobs to meet the needs of workers who want jobs?” says Public Policy Analyst with the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center, Allan Freyer. “The first test of that is whether we have created enough jobs to dig ourselves out of the hole that was created during the Great Recession.”

Freyer states that the Chapel Hill area is making the right steps in making jobs. “Durham-Chapel Hill has done really well. Over the last year, Durham-Chapel Hill gained about 4,400 jobs. They’ve created 6,000 jobs since the end of the recession, so it is one of the few metro areas that have seen positive growth.”

As for the upcoming year, Freyer says that the Chapel Hill area will continue to open up opportunities for those who need them.

“I do think Durham-Chapel Hill will continue to add jobs. They have already reclaimed enough jobs to fill the hole created by the recession,” assures Freyer. “I think for many of these other metro areas, several of them will, in all likelihood, by the end of this year, create enough jobs to get back to where they were in 2007.

Freyer also warns that there needs to be a change for other metro areas in order for greater job growth to happen.

“For a lot of these other metro areas, they have many, many, many years left to go to get back to where they were before the recession began, if they keep creating jobs at the present rate.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-news/slow-job-recovery-nc-metros/

NC Unemployment Steadily Improves

The North Carolina Department of Commerce reported the unemployment figures for both North Carolina and the US for the month of April, and there appear to be signs of improvement

While the month of January 2014 saw an unemployment level of 6.9 percent for North Carolina, the numbers have steadily decreased to 6.7 percent for the month of April.

Nationally, the percentage of those unemployed decreased to 6.3 percent from the much greater 7.5 percent at the same time last year.

The local area statistics stated that the number of employed citizens stands at over 4.3 million, with nearly 300 thousand left unemployed, as opposed to the previous year at this time, which was recorded at almost 4.4 million and a noticeably larger 400 thousand that were unemployed.

The next monthly employment update for North Carolina is set to be announced on May 28.

To see all of the employment figures for the state of North Carolina and the United States in detail, click here.

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/nc-unemployment-steadily-improves/

NC Unemployment Rate Hits Nearly Six-Year Low

North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest point in nearly six years in February at 6.4 percent.

According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the jobless rate fell from 6.7 percent in January, a total of 0.3 percent. However, the numbers aren’t all positive.

While the report shows nearly 15,000 fewer people claimed unemployment, only 7,400 more people were hired.

The same trend is apparent when comparing the numbers over the year: nearly 50,000 more people were employed from February 2013 to 2014, while more than 112,000 fewer people claimed to be unemployed. That decreased the jobless rate 2.2 percent in just 12 months.

February 2014 also put North Carolina’s unemployment rate lower than the national number for the first time since March 2006.

The county-by-county unemployment numbers are scheduled to release April 9.

To see the complete breakdown of North Carolina’s February unemployment stats, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/nc-unemployment-rate-hits-nearly-six-year-low/

State Unemployment Rate Hits Five-Year Low In January

North Carolina’s unemployment rate marked its lowest point in nearly six years this January, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

In the first month of the new year, the jobless rate fell 0.2 percent compared to the month prior and 2.1 percent from the year before.

The numbers reflect true improvement from between December and January with more than 17,000 people claiming new jobs while more than 11,000 people no longer claimed to be without employment.

North Carolina’s unemployment numbers are just about even with the national level of 6.6 percent.

The state’s unemployment rate of 6.7 percent marks the lowest point since November 2008, which was in the middle of a five-percent increase in about a year and a half.

The county-by-county unemployment rates are scheduled to be released this Friday.

Click here to see the unemployment rate release.

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/state-unemployment-rate-hits-five-year-low-january/

In NC, Did Cutting Benefits Really Cut Unemployment?

CHAPEL HILL – Last year, the General Assembly voted to cut off unemployment benefits for thousands of North Carolinians—and the unemployment rate went down, faster in this state than anywhere else in the country.

But were those two connected—and if so, how?

Republicans say cutting off benefits motivated people to get back on the job market; Democrats say the move actually discouraged people, to the point where they dropped out of the job market altogether.

But Mark Vitner—managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo—says he’s skeptical all around.

“As with many things in economics,” he says, “if you take the data and twist them the way you want, you can say just about anything.”

Vitner says he doesn’t believe the unemployment rate fell solely because people dropped out of the job market: North Carolina’s labor force did decline in 2013, but the decline was actually faster in the first half of the year, before the state cut off benefits.

Furthermore, Vitner says, “(while) we had the biggest drop in the unemployment rate in the country, we didn’t have the biggest drop in the labor force in the country – not even close to it.”

That suggests North Carolina was, in fact, getting people back to work in 2013, at a faster rate than most other states.

Governor Pat McCrory and other Republicans have touted this as a “Carolina miracle.” But Vitner says not so fast.

“If you’ve been unemployed for long periods of time and you’ve received emergency benefits, odds are you’ve exhausted your savings,” he says. “I think many people, many of those folks, took jobs that they wouldn’t have taken in the past – because they were looking for something to replace the job that they had lost – but now they’ve got a different concern, which is ‘I’ve got to get money in the door’…

“And so part of that increase in leisure and hospitality employment and retail trade that picked up in the second half of the year may have been people saying, ‘well, I’ve got to take something because I’ve got to get money coming in.’ And that’s not a success story.”

Vitner made those comments at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic outlook briefing, last week Thursday at the Sheraton Chapel Hill.

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/nc-cutting-benefits-really-cut-unemployment/

Economist: Next Three Years Will Be Strong

CHAPEL HILL – The national and local economy got off to a slow start this year, but economist Mark Vitner of Wells Fargo says he still expects 2014 to be a strong year overall.

“Most of the numbers that we’re going to see (from February) are likely to be disappointing because the time that those reports are put together, the time period that they reference, is right about the time that we had the big snowstorm,” he said Thursday. “But I think that’s all pretty much a temporary disruption.”

Vitner delivered the keynote address at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce’s 2014 Economic Outlook Briefing, Thursday morning at the Sheraton Chapel Hill.

Vitner based his optimism on a number of positive developments—including reduced uncertainty following the federal budget deal; rapid growth in the nation’s energy and tech sectors; and an expected drop in the unemployment rate, down below six percent by the end of the year. He said he expects the improved economy will spur the Fed to raise interest rates sometime in 2015 (though not before).

Even so, Vitner says economic growth will be slower in the future than it has been in the past. Prior to the recession, he says, the U.S. economy grew at an average rate of 3.3 percent per year—but that was sustained in part by heavy debt. Now that credit’s harder to come by, Vitner says growth won’t be quite that fast: he predicts the economy will grow by 2.4 percent in 2014, up about half a point from last year, and by about 3.1 percent in 2015 and 2016.

If that prediction holds, Vitner says we’ll be doing pretty well.

“We think that 2014, 2015 and 2016 will be the three best years of this decade,” he said Thursday.

And with the economy returning to normal, consumer confidence too is up from previous years. But Vitner says people aren’t necessarily feeling more optimistic, just less pessimistic: fewer people say the economy is “bad,” but there’s been no change in the number of people who are ready to say the economy is “good.”

“I kind of sum that out as ‘less bad is good – but more good would be better,’” he quipped. “That’s kind of where the economy is right now.”

Vitner is a Charlotte-based managing director and senior economist for Wells Fargo. More than 100 people were in attendance for his speech on Thursday.

http://chapelboro.com/news/business/economist-next-three-years-will-strong/

Rep. Price: Cutting Benefits Doesn’t Cut Unemployment

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/

NC Jobless Rates Tumbles, Signs Remain Of Sluggish Recovery

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/