N.C. unemployment hits record high

Posted January 22, 2010

— North Carolina’s unemployment rate jumped to a record high of 11.2 percent in December, with employment dropping by more than 31,000, the state Employment Security Commission reported Friday.

The rate surpassed the previous high of 11.1 percent, which was set last May, and ended a string of five consecutive months where unemployment had either improved slightly or stabilized.

As bad as the news is, the actual unemployment rate is probably higher, according to N.C. State University economist Dr. Michael Walden.

“The rise in the unemployment rate was expected, and I think the rate could go higher before it declines,” Walden told
“However, what was unfortunate in the December report was that the rise in unemployment was totally due to a loss in jobs rather than ‘discouraged workers’ coming back into the labor force and looking for work,” he warned. “The labor force number actually fell in December.

“If discouraged workers and underemployed workers (those working part-time only because they can't find full-time work), are included, then the state unemployment rate is closer to 20 percent.”

The state unemployment rate in November was 10.8 percent, and it was 8.1 percent in December 2008.

Since the recession began in 2007, 248,000 jobs have been lost statewide.

“Certainly, it’s frustrating out there right now,” ESC spokesman Larry Parker said. “We thought we would have more of the same that we had seen since February of last year. We hadn’t had too many large gains or losses. Things had leveled off, and in a couple of months, we actually had gains in employment, but small.

“[In December], obviously, there were some bigger changes,” Parker said, “and that had an effect on the rate.”

The number of people losing jobs is based on household surveys. A separate survey of employers found that non-farm jobs decreased by 2,400. Both numbers are included in compiling of the overall employment rate, according to the ESC.

The highest unemployment rate is based on records dating back to 1976, when the current methodology was implemented.

“Across-the-board losses” drove the December rate higher, Parker said.

Employment in professional and business services actually increased by 1,900, but those gains were more than offset by a loss of 2,600 leisure and hospitality jobs.

Construction jobs dropped by 1,200, while manufacturing employment fell by 900. The trade, transportation and utilities sector total fell by 800.

The size of the state’s work force, which is based on the number of people working or who are seeking work, also fell by 12,000 from November, to 4.52 million. That total also is some 55,000 less than December 2008.

“The December job report numbers were disappointing,” Walden said. “Both the household and employer surveys showed job losses, although the drop was much smaller in the employer survey compared to the household survey. Most economists put more emphasis on the employer survey because it is based on a larger sample size.”

Walden remains convinced that the job picture will improve, however.

“I still predict job gains - although modest - will begin to occur in the first half of 2010,” he said. “Still, the December employment report suggests the job market continues to be weak and will be a major issue in 2010 as well as 2011.”

The national unemployment rate is 10 percent.



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  • Keepin_it_real_in_NC Jan 22, 2010

    How's that Hope and Change working for you??

  • PanthersFan45 Jan 22, 2010

    I never like to make politics an issue, but as an independent voter I am stunned people voted for Bev Perdue & Barack Obama ... tax hikes in a recession, you don't do that !!!! This economy is in sad shape because the voters in NC chose it. My advice, change it in 4 years ... vote for a democrat in a year of growth, not a recession, wise up people. If your on unemployment, get used to it for 3 more years than vote "smart". That means vote your wallet !!

  • lizard Jan 22, 2010

    Rev. RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman -

    I agree with you that Bush didn't change enough from the Clinton policies.

  • Adelinthe Jan 22, 2010


    Got news for you. The Democrats via Clinton began this mess. Then the Republicans did nothing to help fix it. And cronyism and lobbyists tied the knot on the top of this package for failure.

    BOTH parties aided in aligning our country for this mess.

    God bless.


  • Adelinthe Jan 22, 2010

    rayraynral - "Reagan inherited double digit unemployment, interest, & inflation and turned it around in 2 years. We need leadership. Blaming Bush won't cut it. This is just bad policy."


    Bush didn't help things, but he inherited bad policy from Clinton who coerced FNMA and FMAC to cut their requirements for eligibility for making good mortgages, thus some bad mortgages occurred.

    This has been building for years, and the bulk of it can be laid directly at the feed of BOTH parties in Congress and in the White House.

    And as for Obama, I don't think he's experienced enough to get us out of this mess. I think he's presently treading water looking tossing $$$ this way and that to try to fix it instead of pulling on experience to work it out - because he has no experience in anything this large.

    God bless.


  • lizard Jan 22, 2010

    oldschooltarheel -

    Do you really think 1930's ideas (that didn't work btw)would work now with our shift from an agrarian economy and a $15 billion trade deficit every month? None of that existed then. 1930 ideas won't work.

  • Adelinthe Jan 22, 2010

    Let's understand one thing, no one person is to blame for the financial mess our country in. It took a majority of congress over the past, at least ten years for it to build up like this.

    But yeah, Obama promised change and he's promised to create new jobs, new jobs that about a million people have yet to see.

    God help us.

    And don't forget, the unemployment benefits of those who lost jobs over a year ago have expired, and when they did, many of those people had no choice but to go on welfare to keep food in their bellies.

    So the stats at NCESC aren't showing E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G!!!

    God bless.


  • lizard Jan 22, 2010

    pbjbeach -

    The war(s) is not illegal, it's self-defence. You only say they're illegal because you're on their side and want America to fail. Your comments mirror those of the enemy.

    Six and a half years of growth under Bush considering the war and what he inherited is a great accomplishment.

  • lkanzig Jan 22, 2010

    way to go DC!
    by the way, it was hitting the fan while your good ol boy georgie was in office. whose watch did this start on?? who was the prior admin?? please... you are really sad people.

  • whatusay Jan 22, 2010

    pbjbeach....I know you will always have a job - a comedian.