The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

September 19, 2013

What Governor McCrory is counting on

Thursday, September 19, 2013 — RALEIGH – When the July jobs report for North Carolina came out last week, showing an uptick in the unemployment rate, all the usual suspects said all the usual things.

Republicans whose main focus is national politics blamed President Barack Obama. Democrats whose main focus is state politics blamed Gov. Pat McCrory. The Raleigh News & Observer published an unintentionally hilarious editorial that blamed 2013 tax and regulation reforms that have yet to be implemented (violating the rules of causality), blamed a 2011 reduction in sales taxes (violating the rules of logic) and mistakenly described North Carolina’s net gain of 8,200 jobs last month as “offset by the lost of 5,300 public sector jobs” (violating the rules of arithmetic).

Employment statistics can be complicated. Labor economics can be even more complicated. Still, you can boil down North Carolina’s job trends into three simple statements.

First, our unemployment rate has been one of the highest in the nation since the start of the Great Recession.

Second, both job creation and unemployment have improved markedly since 2011.

Third, they’ll have to improve even more quickly to catch up with the rest of the nation – and to boost the political fortunes of incumbent North Carolina politicians.

To begin with, remember that every monthly jobs report contains two different sets of data, from two different surveys. The smaller survey, of households, produces the data from which officials compute the unemployment rate and related measures. The larger survey, of employers, produces the jobs count. Over time, the household and employer trends track fairly closely. But because the household survey involves a smaller sample, it tends to bounce around more. Also, both sets of numbers are often revised in subsequent months.

So here’s what the two surveys reported in July about North Carolina’s labor market. From the household survey, we learned that the standard unemployment rate was 8.9 percent, up slightly from 8.8 percent in June but still down substantially from July 2012 (9.6 percent) and July 2011 (10.4 percent). There were about 109,000 more employed people in North Carolina this July than in July 2011, and about 69,000 fewer unemployed people. From the employer survey, we learned not only that North Carolina payroll jobs rose by 8,200 but also that payroll jobs are up 69,000 from July 2012 and 131,000 from July 2011.

It was foolish, in other words, for liberal critics to pounce on the July numbers as evidence that the economic policies of North Carolina’s new leaders are failing. McCrory hasn’t been in power long enough to evaluate, anyway, and the state’s economy has clearly improved since the enactment of the first GOP budget in mid-2011. Remember during the 2011 legislative session when then-Gov. Bev Perdue and Democratic lawmakers demanded that Republicans keep the state sales tax at 5.5 percent? They forecast economic disaster if the sales tax dropped to 4.75 percent. Their forecast was silly and properly ignored by Republicans, whose decision saved North Carolinians nearly $1 billion a year (with the largest proportional benefits accruing to lower-income households, by the way).

Unfortunately for the Republicans, they have more to contend with than foolish rhetoric. North Carolina’s current growth rate still isn’t rapid enough to catch up with the national average. While voters wisely don’t hold state politicians as responsible as federal politicians for economic conditions, there is some evidence that governors, in particular, get praise or blame for the relative position of a state’s economy. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Politics found that when a state’s unemployment rate is lower than the national average, that boosts the job approval of its governor. When the rate is higher than the national average, that pulls the governor’s approval down.

McCrory and legislative leaders are counting on their package of tax, regulatory and other reforms to speed up economic growth and job creation within the next couple of years. Unless you possess a working time machine, please don’t pretend to know the outcome in advance.

John Hood is president of the John Locke Foundation.

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • D.G. Martin Read others’ views to be better informed, decide for yourself

    “I don’t read The Washington Post. That is not where I get my ideas.”

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patrick Gannon This isn’t medical marijuana

    As state legislators debated allowing the use of an extract from marijuana plants to treat seizure disorders over the past couple of weeks, it was evident that social conservatives – there are many of them in the General Assembly – felt a tinge of unease about it, even as almost every one of them voted yes.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Friends and contentment

    Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thanks for the honest deed

    I would like to thank the person that found my wallet in the parking lot of Harris Teeter on July 23 and turned it in to the Albemarle Police.

    July 29, 2014

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • We need your help

    Hurray for the Albemarle City Council. Council plans to battle N.C. Department of Transportation’s ranking of all 13 projects in Stanly County to the bottom of their priority list. Council is setting up petitions in various city buildings for citizens to sign.

    July 28, 2014

  • Council asks veterans to seek office

    The terms of office for the leaders of the Stanly County Veterans Council ended June 30. A call is being sent to veterans council members requesting candidates for the four elective offices of the council. A meeting has been set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the DAV building. All council members are urged to attend.

    July 28, 2014

  • Mike Walden The gains and gaps in our economy

    Twice a year, I pull out my cloudy crystal ball and attempt to make some predictions about the direction and pace of the North Carolina economy. I just finished my latest effort and, as usual, the results are a combination of pluses and minuses.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jason O. Boyd Yellow journalism takes on new form, people are dumber for it

    Time to get on the soapbox for a few minutes.
    Let me clear my throat. Eh ... hem!
    People are dumb.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Special election adds to the mix

    RALEIGH – A busy slate of judicial elections this November got even busier recently when Judge John Martin of the N.C. Court of Appeals announced his retirement.
    A special statewide election to fill Martin’s seat will be added to the general election ballot, joining the four N.C. Supreme Court seats and three N.C. Court of Appeals races already slated for this fall.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content