Orange County Weathered Recession Better Than Most

An advocacy group’s analysis shows more North Carolinians are out of work now than before the recession.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped sharply since the darkest days of the recession. But the state still has more people looking for work than it did before the start of the Great Recession in 2007, according to Patrick McHugh, an economist for the North Carolina Justice Center, a left-leaning advocacy group.

“There are 100 counties in North Carolina and over 60 of them still have fewer jobs than existed before the recession hit,” McHugh said.

This statistic may have you scratching your head if you know that North Carolina as a whole has gained jobs since 2007. But McHugh says those job gains are concentrated in a few counties in the state.

And in the metropolitan areas where there has been job growth, McHugh says employment hasn’t kept up with the rise in population.

“Even if you only look at metropolitan areas—the 15 metropolitan areas that exist in the state—every single one of them actually has seen more growth in unemployed people than in employed people,” McHugh said.

Economists measure Chapel Hill and Durham together as one of the state’s metropolitan areas, and its residents did not escape the overall trend.

“The Chapel Hill – Durham area, if you compare back to 2007, has seen about an 8 percent increase in the number of people who are employed and almost 50 percent growth in the number of people who are unemployed.”

Orange County had a 5 percent unemployment rate for June, which is still higher than it was before the recession. But McHugh says compared to most of the state, Orange County has it pretty good.

“Orange County has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state, and has seen decent job growth since the start of the recession.”

McHugh says the university presence and the county’s proximity to Research Triangle Park had a lot to do with its ability to weather the recession. McHugh says those employers also kept Chapel Hill and Durham’s wages up, even as wages have fallen in other metropolitan areas.

“If we adjust for inflation and we compare back to 2007, the average hourly wage in Raleigh has gone down by about two dollars, the average hourly wage in Charlotte has gone down just slightly by about 30 cents.  In fact, about half of the metropolitan areas in the state have seen wages not keep up with inflation.”

Chapel Hill and Durham have the highest wage growth in the state, with an increase of $4.50 per hour.

McHugh says he believes raising the state’s minimum wage would boost earnings and employment. June was the fourth straight month unemployment has increased in the state.

NC Unemployment Rate Up Again In June

North Carolina’s unemployment rate ticked up again, from 5.7 percent in May to 5.8 percent in June.

That’s according to numbers released Tuesday by the NC Department of Commerce. North Carolina’s unemployment rate bottomed out at 5.3 percent in January and February but has gone up slightly every month since.

Read the full report from the DOC’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division.

The national unemployment rate, meanwhile, has continued to drop – down to 5.3 percent in June, two tenths of a point down from May. North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped below the national average last summer and stayed there until March, but it’s gone back up since then.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate is still four tenths of a point below where it was a year ago.

County-by-county numbers for June will be released on July 29.

Orange and Buncombe Tie for Lowest NC Unemployment Rate

Orange County is tied with Buncombe County for the lowest unemployment rate in the state at 3.9 percent.

The not-seasonally-adjusted numbers were released on Wednesday. Orange County’s 3.9 percent is down two-tenths of a point from the March numbers, while exactly in line with the numbers from last April.

The statewide not-seasonally-adjusted rate was 5.2 percent.

Unemployment In Orange County Hits Six-Year Low

Orange County’s unemployment rate dropped below 4 percent in November, for the first time in more than six years.

That’s according to the latest data from the NC Department of Commerce. Orange County’s unemployment rate dropped slightly, from 4 percent in October to 3.9 percent last month. It had previously hit 4 percent this past April before rising again in the summer; the last time our unemployment rate was this low was in April of 2008, just before the Great Recession.

See a graph of Orange County’s monthly unemployment rate dating back to 1990.

The numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so it’s better to compare from year to year rather than month to month. Last November, Orange County’s unemployment rate was 4.4 percent; it’s dropped by half a percentage point in the last 12 months.

Statewide, there are three counties with unemployment rates below 4 percent: Orange, Chatham, and Buncombe. Chatham has the lowest rate, 3.7 percent; Graham County still has the highest rate, 11.4. (Graham is one of two counties with a double-digit unemployment rate; the other is Scotland County.)

According to the DOC, there are 2,840 unemployed Orange County residents – but that number does not include people who are underemployed, people whose unemployment benefits have expired, or people who have dropped out of the workforce entirely.

The statewide unemployment rate for December is due out on January 27.

Orange Unemployment Drops Again In October

Orange County’s unemployment rate saw another big drop in October, down to 4.0 percent from 4.5 percent in September.

That’s according to numbers released earlier this week by the Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the NC Department of Commerce.

Orange County is tied with Buncombe and Henderson Counties with the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state. Chatham County has the lowest rate, at 3.8 percent. (The highest rate is Graham County, 11.2 percent.)

Numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so it’s actually more useful to compare unemployment rates from year to year rather than month to month. Orange County’s unemployment rate in October of last year was 4.8 percent – so it’s dropped almost a full point in the last 12 months.

The next update will take place next Friday, December 19, when the Department of Commerce will release state-wide unemployment numbers for November.

Big Drop In Local Unemployment Rate

The unemployment rate dropped sharply in the Triangle last month, according to numbers released last week by the NC Department of Commerce.

In Orange Count, the unemployment rate dropped from 5.4 percent in August to 4.5 percent in September – almost a full percentage point in a single month. That’s no surprise – the numbers are not seasonally adjusted, and Orange County’s unemployment rate usually goes up in the summer and down again in the fall – but the 4.5 percent rate is also down 0.2 percent from where it was in September of 2013.

Alamance, Chatham, Durham, and Wake Counties also saw big drops in their unemployment rates from August to September – drops ranging from 0.7 percent to 1.1 percent, all in a single month. And all four counties also have lower unemployment rates in 2014 than they did at this time last year; Alamance County’s rate is down more than a full percentage point from September 2013 (down from 7.2 percent last year to 5.9 percent this year).

Read the full report, from the DOC’s Division of Employment Security.

Across the state, Chatham and Currituck Counties are tied with the lowest unemployment rate, 4.2 percent. Graham County has the highest, 12.2 percent.

Unemployment Down In NC (But So Is Employment)

North Carolina’s unemployment rate dropped a tenth of a point in September, from 6.8 percent in August to 6.7 percent, according to numbers released earlier this week by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The number of unemployed North Carolinians dropped by about 4,500 people in September – but that’s not necessarily translating into more jobs. In fact the number of employed North Carolinians also dropped in September, by about 5,600 people.

And North Carolina’s unemployment rate continues to lag behind the national average. In March of this year, the state’s unemployment rate had dropped to 6.3 percent, actually below the national rate of 6.7 – but since then, the national rate has dropped to just below 6 percent, while the state’s rate has slightly increased.

Read the full report from the NC Department of Commerce.

Still, unemployment is much lower in North Carolina now than at this time last year. The state’s unemployment rate in September 2013 was 7.7 percent – a full point higher than it is now.

County-by-county unemployment numbers are due to be released on Wednesday.

Unemployment Up Slightly In Orange

Orange County’s unemployment rate ticked up again last month, from 5.3 percent in July to 5.4 percent in August.

That’s the latest from the State Department of Commerce. According to numbers released Wednesday, the unemployment rate went up in August in 74 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

County numbers are not seasonally adjusted, so it’s better to compare the unemployment rate from year to year rather than month to month. The August 2014 unemployment rate of 5.4 percent is still lower than it was one year ago, but not by much: in August of 2013, Orange County’s unemployment rate was 5.5 percent.

Orange County has the seventh lowest unemployment rate in the state; Currituck County is tops with a rate of 4 percent, followed by Chatham County at 4.9 percent. (Graham County ranks last with a rate of 13.4 percent.) The overall unemployment rate in the Triangle is 5.7 percent.

Statewide unemployment numbers for September will be released on October 21.

State Unemployment Rate Continues Climb

North Carolina’s unemployment rate increased for the second consecutive month and the third time in the last four months, according to the August figures release by the state’s Department of Commerce.

LAST MONTH: Unemployment Up For Second Time In Three Months

Nearly 10,500 more people claimed unemployment compared to July while more than 28,500 fewer people had jobs, according to the release. That increased the state’s unemployment rate 0.3 percent to 6.8 percent.

That still shows a 1.2-percent improvement from August 2013 with nearly 29,000 more people claiming employment from 2013 to 2014.

These numbers are seasonally adjusted, already accounting for the shift in work patterns, such as schools not being in session over the summer.

The national unemployment rate decreased 0.1 percent from July to August this year and now sits at 6.1 percent.

August 2014 N.C. Unemployment Figures Release

Orange County Unemployment Inches Up

Unemployment rates inched up across the state last month, including here in Orange County.

The local unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent in June to 5.3 percent in July, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. This is still lower than the statewide rate of 6.9 percent.

Orange County has the 8th lowest unemployment rate in the state, with approximately 3,900 people looking for work. In the Durham-Chapel Hill Metro area, the majority of job losses were in the education, health services and government sectors. Statewide, more than 322,000 workers are currently seeking employment.

Officials warn the July numbers are preliminary and not adjusted for seasonal variations. August numbers will be released in mid-September.

You can read the full report here.