N.C. unemployment jumps to 9.7% – highest rate since 1983

Posted March 11, 2009
Updated March 13, 2009

— North Carolina’s unemployment rate soared to 9.7 percent in January, the highest rate since 1983, the state Employment Security Commission said Wednesday.

In March 1983, the unemployment rate reached 10 percent.

“The January jump in unemployment was huge, signaling that the recession is well entrenched in North Carolina,” North Carolina State University economist Michael Walden said of the latest figures.

job cuts N.C. unemployment spikes

North Carolina, which a few years ago had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, now has the sixth-highest rate. Michigan tops the list at 11.6 percent, and South Carolina, Rhode Island and California also have rates higher than 10 percent. Oregon is slightly below 10 percent.

Walden warned that more grim news is ahead.

“With the employment market not expected to rebound until mid 2010, we'll be looking at some scary jobless numbers in the months ahead,” he said. “I don't see the rate peaking until next year, probably at near 14 percent for the entire state.”

The ranks of the jobless jumped from 8.1 percent in December. ESC had revised the December rate downward from 8.7 percent after a further review of data in recent weeks.

Nearly 74,000 people joined the jobless ranks in January, pushing the total to 443,069 – a record high – as employers across the state cut jobs in the nationwide recession.

The number of North Carolinians with jobs fell to 4,109,016. That’s down 180,177 from January 2008, when the jobless rate stood at 5 percent.

“While many job sectors have faced cutbacks and layoffs, manufacturing and construction continue to experience the most loss,” ESC Chairman Moses Carey Jr. said in a statement.

According to the ESC, 11,500 manufacturing jobs and 10,300 construction jobs were lost in January.

Despite the financial woes on Wall Street and the merger of Wachovia with Wells Fargo, the state’s financial activities sector added 1,200 jobs.

Although the jobless numbers continue to rise, the ESC posts new openings every week. At least 10 jobs were posted Wednesday, and Leon Perry, a manager in the Raleigh ESC office, said retail and landscaping jobs are starting to pick up.

Antonio Johnson was following up on a lead at the ESC office. He worked with a job counselor to enter his work history into the agency's job database.

"We take that experience and assign a code that we put into the system that has the jobs for those different categories," counselor Larry Campbell said.

When a food service job opens up, for example, the computer automatically matches it with job seekers like Johnson. The ESC will then contact the job applicants with information on how to apply, Campbell said.

The Raleigh ESC office has matched 2,300 people with jobs in the last year.

Alton Smith, who was reviewing online job listings at the ESC office, said the range of available jobs helps keep his spirits up.

"It's called believing. It's called going out and getting it," Smith said.


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  • affirmativediversity Mar 11, 2009


    you know that sorry argument that "they pay taxes one way or another"...let them get a REFUND from where ever it is THEY PAY taxes.

    FEDERAL PERSONAL TAXES and the withholdings people pay are NOT "one way or another"...they are VERY if you are not paying them you should not receive a "refund"

    Oh and just so you know...I don't like the "earned income tax credit" either!

  • affirmativediversity Mar 11, 2009

    wildervb posted, "I'm not on Welfare, I'm getting the tax break, I'll bet you are to."


    I'll bet you PAY taxes TOO! My beef isn't with giving people who PAY taxes a break. OBVIOUSLY I BELIEVE THEY SHOULD GET A BIGGER BREAK. My beef is with giving people who DON'T PAY any taxes "MONEY" and calling it a "tax break" when all THAT is WELFARE!

  • affirmativediversity Mar 11, 2009


    I did answer you post...but it was long winded and I accidently hit "enter" instead of "add" so I'll have to wait to see if it posts...

    if not...the abreviated version was "look at the capital gains"

  • time4real Mar 11, 2009

    They're going to round up and make it an even 10% so that next month's jump doesn't seem so bad!!!

  • wildervb Mar 11, 2009


    Thanks for the info on tax rates. So I'll have to ask, with rates so high, why did our nation's economy grow so well in the 40s and 50s and 60s? Seems to completely debunk your tax cuts fix everything theory.

  • wildervb Mar 11, 2009

    "Oh and OBAMA is NOT giving 95% of tax PAYERS a cut!!!! HE JUST INCREASED WELFARE...simple as all those NON TAX PAYING people get more money they haven't earned from the IRS!"

    I'm not on Welfare, I'm getting the tax break, I'll bet you are too! In fact that vast majority of the people getting Obama's tax break pay taxes one way or another, but it just burns you up that our lowest wage earners will get as much of a break as you doesn't it. We've tried tinkle down economics, its failed, time to try trickle up.

  • affirmativediversity Mar 11, 2009

    When FDR came into office the federal tax rate was 25% with a capital gains tax of 12.5%. FDR immediately raised fed taxes to 63% effective 1932. Then in 1934 he increased capital gains to 31.5%, while maintaining personal income rates at 63%. In 1936 FDR increased the fed tax rate to 73% and the capital gains to 39%. In 1938, while maintaining tax rates of 73%, FDR did lower capital gains to 30%. In 1941 he increased tax rates to 80% but maintained capital gains at 30%. In 1942 FDR increased federal taxes again, this time to 88% but reduced the capital gains to 25%. Then in 1944 FDR increased federal taxes to 94% while maintaining a capital gains rate of 25%. The rate remained 94%/25% during 1945.

    The tax rate of 91% personal tax with a 25% capital gains was actually implemented by President Truman in 1951. President Eisenhower and President Kennedy maintained these rates.

  • nerdlywehunt Mar 11, 2009

    Just to remind the neocon "brains" that this mess started on the Bushmasters watch........remember just a year ago him telling us "the economys good" with that wicked little grin of his. The middle class has officaily been decimated....mission accomplished!

  • Ripcord Mar 11, 2009

    I said: "Bush, nor anyone else in his administration, ever said Saddam was responsible for or in any way directly connected to 9/11."

    citizen782 responded: "WHAT? Are you honestly in a vacuum?"

    Now it's time for your reality check, citizen782. The headline reads: "Bush rejects Saddam 9/11 link"

    Bush said: "We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 11 September attacks."

    See it here...

    The Left loves to claim that Bush said that Saddam was responsible for 9/11. Well, that's pure Left wing propaganda, period. He never said. This has been investigated extensively.

    Put the Kool-Aid down and return to fact based reality.

  • affirmativediversity Mar 11, 2009


    You are living in an OBAMA INDUCED pipe dream!!

    Your dissertation of absolute unfounded garbage, not withstanding THE ORIGINAL QUESTION STILL STANDS! If Obama is only taking taxes back to where they were under Pres. Clinton, as YOU STATED...then please enlightened us all when Pres. Clinton had CAP AND TRADE?????

    Cap and Trade is nothing more than turning POLLUTION into a COMMODITY...funny enough, that will be TRADED (and speculated on) at the CHICAGO COMMODITIES EXCHANGE!!!!! Gosh, No PAY TO PLAY THERE!!!!

    I'm sure AL GORE will enjoy all the new money he'll be making SINCE this has been HIS SUGGESTION (and admitted investment) for YEARS!!!

    It hasn't worked anywhere its tried but that seems to be Obama's standard operating procedure!

    Oh and OBAMA is NOT giving 95% of tax PAYERS a cut!!!! HE JUST INCREASED WELFARE...simple as all those NON TAX PAYING people get more money they haven't earned from the IRS!