North Carolina jobs: lagging or waiting?

Date posted: January 23, 2012

Since the job market bottomed out in early 2010, North Carolina has added jobs but at only one-third the rate of the nation. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden explains why.

“In fact … since early 2010, the nation has added jobs at the rate of just shy of … 2 percent. We’ve added jobs at about a 0.7 percent rate. So, we are under the national job growth rate. Several potential reasons here: One, national and state economies do grow at different rates. Second reason could be some of the downside of our dependence on our traditional industries — textiles, furniture, tobacco — they are still losing jobs, although not at a very high rate.

“But another reason could be our worker productivity. We have a very high worker productivity in our … state. In fact, worker productivity growth has been twice as fast over the last year in North Carolina than the nation. And typically … what you see during recessions and then immediate recoveries is businesses try to do more with fewer people. And so since we have a higher worker productivity rate here, businesses have been able to perhaps do that more so here in North Carolina than in the nation.

“Now the good news is if you look at the last job expansion from 2002 to 2007, over that entire time period, North Carolina actually added jobs at a faster clip than the nation. But we were slower in the first three years. So, maybe what’s going to happen is finally after a few years in this current recovery, we’re going to start to see faster job growth here in North Carolina.”

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