by Paige Terryberry
Senior Analyst for Fiscal Policy, John Locke Foundation
As reported last week by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, North Carolina unemployment increased for the first time since the pandemic-induced economic downturn.
Moreover, the labor force participation rate is not back to pre-pandemic levels. If labor force participation were at pre-pandemic levels, North Carolina would have about 59,190 more people in the labor force.
Inflation rages on, and wages are not keeping up. Inflation is a chief concern for businesses, especially small businesses.
But even large businesses have been reporting layoffs and workforce reductions. Nationally, companies like Meta, Google, Snap, and Microsoft are letting staff go in a dramatic effort to cut costs.
Layoffs in North Carolina are making headlines too.
Businesses in North Carolina must report layoff notices to the North Carolina Department of Commerce under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice (WARN) Act.
According to the latest WARN report, 2,486 North Carolinians have been laid off thus far this year. Given the usual delay in layoff reports, the WARN report likely understates the actual number. Yet, in the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, the number of affected employees was much higher: 11,644 and 8,109, respectively.
Even so, the WARN reports represent a relatively small share of all layoffs in North Carolina. Only businesses with 100 or more full-time workers are required to file a WARN notice. Such reports must be filed only if at least 50 employees are affected during a 30-day period or if the business conducts a mass layoff of at least 500 employees.
Affected companies in 2022 include:
Remote work also has implications for the future workforce and businesses. Some companies are cutting costs by halting brick-and-mortar expansions.
An empty building in Charlotte is a visible reminder of the changing work environment. Managed care service provider Centene Corporation reversed its plans to open its regional headquarters in Charlotte, even after a $388 million incentive in taxpayer dollars from Gov. Roy Cooper, further evidence that incentives do little to entice companies to move here. The move was reported to bring 3,237 new jobs to the state. In a statement, the company cited remote work as the reason for the about-face.