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NC jobless rate dips, but employers continue to shed jobs

Posted September 20, 2013

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— North Carolina's unemployment rate fell in August, but economists say the numbers aren't all good news.

Data released Friday by the state Department of Commerce show the jobless rate declined to 8.7 percent, down from 8.9 percent in July.

The nationwide unemployment rate is 7.3 percent.

"There's so much behind the numbers that indicate the economy still has a ways to go," said Aaron Chatterji, an economist at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Unemployment Rate graphic What's behind the North Carolina unemployment rate?

For example, North Carolina employers shed more than 3,500 jobs in August, and the state's labor force shrank by 12,303, to 4,684,577.

"The rate went down simply because we had more people drop out of the labor force," said Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University. "We'd rather see the unemployment rate go down because there are more people working."

More than 409,000 people in the state remain unemployed, down 8,741 from July.

Once people without a job stop looking for a job, the government no longer counts them as unemployed.

"No one has a precise estimate of (how many people have stopped looking for work), but most people agree a significant part of this problem is people who are discouraged," Chatterji said.

For the second consecutive month, government-sector jobs saw a big decline, at more than 6,800. Professional and business services, education, health services, trade, transportation and utilities all saw employment sector gains.

Jobless generic, unemployment line Job losses cloud unemployment numbers

"We're not seeing jobs increase at the same pace," Walden said, "because the nature of work is changing – more machinery, more technology. They're replacing workers."

The silver lining in the numbers, he said, is that the private sector added thousands of jobs in August. Still, both he and Chatterji said they wouldn't be surprised if North Carolina's unemployment rate trends back up in the coming months as more people start looking for work again.

The state jobless rate was 9.5 percent in January but had been slowly declining. A year ago, the statewide unemployment rate was 9.6 percent.

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  • tracmister Sep 23, 2013

    In other words people are either moving or giving up. Good job on the Republican job creation program.

  • Sep 23, 2013

    " Stop enabling those who can work from getting and staying on assistance." watertowertown

    ...because we'd hate for anyone who has lost their job thru no fault of their own, to have UI benefits. -goldenosprey

    No. That's not what I said. Assistance programs are not intended for lifetime support of those who are not disabled, etc. but are there to help people in a time of need until they get back on their feet. If a person has no timeline to work toward then they will not be motivated to do anything to help themselves.

  • saturn5 Sep 23, 2013

    Offshore: "Ok people, numbers. How does the jobless rate dip all the while employers shed jobs? Someone is practicing fuzzy math again."

    The size of the workforce is shrinking. People stop looking for work and unemployment runs out - they're no longer counted. That's the 800lb gorilla in the room. We have to continually add jobs just to keep pace with population growth. When the labor force shrinks, the numbers don't tell the full story.

  • Offshore Sep 23, 2013

    "NC jobless rate dips, but employers continue to shed jobs"

    Ok people, numbers. How does the jobless rate dip all the while employers shed jobs? Someone is practicing fuzzy math again.

  • goldenosprey Sep 23, 2013

    "I was told things are better, stupid me, I don't believe them."

    The so-called Job Creators are making a lot more profits, so according to republican economic theory the job is done and the tide will raise all boats, right???

  • goldenosprey Sep 23, 2013

    " Stop enabling those who can work from getting and staying on assistance." watertowertown

    ...because we'd hate for anyone who has lost their job thru no fault of their own, to have UI benefits.

    A great way to stop enabling those who can work from getting and staying on assistance would be to pass a Jobs Bill so the senate & prez could sign it, the the House could find time between its fruitless repeal attempts and shutting down the government.

  • foodstamptrader Sep 23, 2013

    As more employers shed headcount or reduce hours to under 30 to avoid the punitive Obamacare burdens, we will see more job losses.

    Automation, offshore outsourcing, and contract labor is the way of the future. Obamacare is not the only reason, but is definitely adding to the trend.

    You cannot make it continually more expensive and burdensome to hire people and expect business to jump at the chance to add headcount...

  • pappybigtuna1 Sep 23, 2013

    Winning !

    I was told things are better, stupid me, I don't believe them

  • Sep 23, 2013

    "The rate went down simply because we had more people drop out of the labor force," said Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University.

    This is true all over the country and it's on Obamas watch. It is too easy to get on and stay on assistance that many people drop out of the workforce all together which in turn lowers the unemployment rate. This is not improving the economy but only a numbers game to create the illusion of an economy that's improving. Stop enabling those who can work from getting and staying on assistance.

  • dontstopnow Sep 23, 2013

    This entire number game is sickening. Maybe some of those really smart know-it-all folks will be on the line soon to look for a job and find nothing there!

    The state needed to change some things, that I agree, but I believe a lot of the loss of benefits is the ole saying, one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel. I think a lot of people abused the system, took money and did not go to work because they did not want to, but there are a lot of really honest folks that look the entire time and simply can't find a job. It is a shame the good folks have to suffer with the spoiled apples.

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