by Michael Lowrey
JLF head John Hood’s column on Friday looked at the state’s economy. Here’s his quick summary of how the state is doing:
• There were 135,300 more payroll jobs in June 2013 than there were in June 2011. However, North Carolina is still down 103,000 payroll jobs from the pre-recession level of June 2007.
• June’s 8.8 percent U-3 employment rate was down substantially from the 10.4 percent rate of June 2011. Nevertheless, North Carolina’s rate remains one of the highest in the country, and well above the pre-recession U-3 rate of 4.7 percent in June 2007.
• On the broadest measure of labor utilization, U-6 underemployment, North Carolina’s rate was 15.6 percent for the fiscal year ending June 2013, down from 17.5 percent during the comparable period of 2011 but still well above the 2007 U-6 rate of 8.5 percent.
• The raw data from the household survey break down as follows. There were about 120,000 more North Carolinians employed in June 2013 than in June 2011, and 66,000 fewer jobless North Carolinians looking for work. The state’s total labor force of 4.7 million has grown by about 54,000 over the past two years.
• North Carolina’s per-capita GDP rose 1.7 percent after inflation from 2011 to 2012, roughly the same growth rate as the national average. From 2007 to 2011, North Carolina’s real per-capita GDP dropped by an average of 1.2 percent a year, worse than the national average drop of .8 percent a year.
In other words, North Carolina’s economy is in better shape than it was two years ago. But it still has a long way to go to recover fully from the Great Recession. As for the immediate future, [N.C. State University economist Michael] Walden’s index of leading indicators points to continued improvement but the job trend since January isn’t as promising.
In short, I wouldn’t bet on unemployment falling below 7 percent by the end of 2014. Below 8 percent? Sure.