In the latest John Locke Foundation Civitas Poll, a quarter of North Carolinian’s expressed concerns about the possibility of losing their job within the next 12 months. Though the job market remains strong, the echoes of the Great Recession of 2008 and the mass layoffs that accompanied it are fresh in people’s minds.

When the pandemic first hit the United States, there was great uncertainty for businesses and workers. As restaurants, various retail establishments, gyms and other businesses all temporarily closed their doors, or in some cases permanently, starting in March 2020, the unemployment rate spiked in one month from 4.4% in March to 14.7% in April.

It’s been on the decline ever since, dropping to a low 3.5% nationally and a slightly lower 3.4% in North Carolina.

A low unemployment rate might normally be an indication of a strong economy, but businesses throughout North Carolina are still struggling to find workers and a new survey reveals that some are worried about their future job prospects.

The Carolina Department of Commerce recently published the 2022 Employer Needs Survey, which found that at least 81% were finding it difficult to hire workers. The top reason was lack of applicants, in addition to employability issues and pay for some was too low.

“It seems that individuals who left the labor force are not returning to it,” Ivankovic said. “This is a problem that should be addressed and improved. I forecast current trends to remain during this year, but predictions are that GDP (gross domestic product) will grow at a much slower rate, even a negative rate due to Federal Reserve policies, and that will ‘cool off’ demand for labor.”

Ironically, despite a relatively strong job market, the latest Civitas Poll revealed that 24.9% of North Carolinians are “very worried” or “somewhat worried” about losing their job within the next 12 months. Sixty-seven percent are “not very worried” or “not worried at all” about the future of their employment.

With the strong concerns about the state of the country’s economy, many workers are probably looking back at the 2008 Great Recession, where one in five employees initially lost their jobs and struggled to get new ones.

The impact of those difficult years was sometimes especially acute in North Carolina, where it was only one of nine states to exceed an unemployment rate of 11%, topping out at 11.4%.

Though only 25% of North Carolinians are concerned about their future job prospects, that the number is so high given the relative availably of jobs. It shows that people remain uneasy about the future of the country and where the markets are going. 

With the memory of mass layoffs and the difficulty of the job hunt in 2008 and the initial lockdowns during the pandemic so fresh in people’s minds, it’s not difficult to image that some remain exceptionally worried about what the future holds.