The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

January 23, 2013

Will NC jobs jump in 2013?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 — North Carolina received a nice Christmas present right before people gathered with friends and family for the holiday season. More than 30,000 jobs were added to the state’s employment rolls in November, and the unemployment rate slid from 9.3 percent to 9.1 percent. Of course, there is usually extra hiring during the holiday season, but these numbers adjust for that typical seasonal trend.

The November job numbers are also significant in another way. North Carolina’s growth in jobs since the bottom of the recession (February 2010) now exceeds the comparable growth rate in jobs at the national level.

Specifically, from February 2010 to November 2012, North Carolina added jobs at a 3.8 percent rate, compared to 3.6 percent for the nation. Also, both North Carolina’s and the nation’s unemployment rates have now dropped 2.3 percentage points from their peak.

Of course, the state is by no means out of the woods from the job losses suffered during the recession. Manufacturing always gets hit harder during economic downturns due to the ability of buyers to postpone purchases of durable products. In the 2007-2009 recession, manufacturing fell twice as fast as the overall economy.

And because North Carolina has a much bigger chunk of its economy in manufacturing – twice as much as the nation in terms of sales value – recessions always hit our state harder. The state lost 8 percent of its job base during the recession, compared to 6 percent for the nation.

Yet the fact that our state’s job growth in the last three years has now exceeded the nation’s pace is encouraging. The question is: Will it continue?

Several reasons point to a yes answer. First is history.

Traditionally, North Carolina loses more during recessions but gains more when the economy resumes growing. Consider the recession of the early 2000s. From 2001 to 2003, North Carolina lost 4 percent of her jobs, while the nation lost 2 percent. But in the economic recovery of 2003 to 2008, our state added jobs at almost twice the rate as the country (12 percent versus 7 percent).

Of course, history may not be repeated. But there are other reasons to be optimistic about jobs in our state. Compared to the country, North Carolina’s workers are more affordable and more productive. That is, pay is lower, but productivity is higher. Businesses like this situation. So when firms are looking for places to locate in the country, they know they’ll get a good deal and a good day’s work in North Carolina.

However, won’t new jobs just go to foreign countries? Not necessarily, at least not anymore. For example, worker wages in China have increased five-fold since 2000, while changing very little in the U.S.

Indeed, a just-released study shows worker wages in the U.S. rising the slowest last year among 15 major industrialized countries.

Other factors are helping the competitive position of both the U.S. and North Carolina. Higher oil prices are making it more costly to transport finished goods from overseas factories. At the same time, lower domestic natural gas prices are reducing energy costs to U.S. factories.

Finally, some U.S. companies producing in foreign countries have had trouble with property rights, a fancy term meaning the protection of confidential plans and procedures.

North Carolina can also market itself as a “right to work” state, which makes it more difficult for unions to organize workers. While this is certainly a controversial topic – the pros and cons of unions can be debated – many companies prefer to do business in states that give them more control over worker costs and rules.

It also is a plus that our state is located in the fast-growing southeast, because locating in North Carolina puts a business in proximity to expanding population markets. North Carolina also has highly rated and relatively (compared to other states) inexpensive community college and public university systems. So businesses know workers in North Carolina have access to top flight education and training programs.

Still, despite these advantages, North Carolina faces important job challenges. Most economic forecasters predict the unemployment rate will continue to decline – but slowly – taking several years to reach 6 percent.

Many of the long-term unemployed do not have the correct set of skills for today’s jobs. Income growth will likely continue to be uneven. Those with college degrees will see their incomes advance faster than those without degrees.

So the job clouds are finally parting, leaving some sunshine to peak through. But we’re far from a sunny jobs sky.

You decide what, individually and collectively, we can do to brighten every job hunter’s day.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    WASHINGTON - The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 19, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 12, 2014

  • Brent Laurenz If you want to vote in primary, you need to register to vote now

    RALEIGH – North Carolina voters will head to the polls on May 6 this year to cast ballots in important primary elections across the state.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Scott Mooneyham Heeding the voter fraud call in N.C.

    RALEIGH – Legislators found the findings outrageous.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Doug Creamer Roots

    I took a few minutes over the weekend to enjoy our yard and the arrival of spring. There seems to be so much work that needs to be done, it is hard to decide what to do first. I am excited that I got to run my tiller through the garden. I didn’t go very deep, but I did at least break up the soil. I have a couple of raised beds and the soil in them was in very good shape. I didn’t plant my peas and now after the big rain we got on Monday I realize that I missed a window of opportunity.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 11, 2014

  • Is a paleo vegetarian diet possible?

    Research shows most people can follow a regimented eating plan for a short time. That's not the challenge. The challenge is finding a healthful eating plan you can follow day after day and achieve your long-term health goals. At this point, it doesn't appear that the paleo eating plan meets these objectives for most people.

    April 10, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 2.16.35 PM.png Are Americans smart to stop drinking diet sodas?

    Recent data from Beverage Digest suggest many are cutting back on diet sodas. Consumption of diet sodas fell more than that of sugary sodas in 2013. This raises two questions: Why is total consumption declining, and is drinking diet soda harmful to health?

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Seasonal Content