Raleigh, N.C. — One North Carolina State University economist says more jobs need to be created before the unemployment rates start to go down, but that likely won't happen until the end of the year.
“We’re not there yet, but at least we’re getting job growth,” said economist Mike Walden. “We need to generate about 200,000 jobs a month nationally to get that unemployment rate to come down."
The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 162,000 jobs in March. Economists had forecast an increase of 190,000 jobs.
National unemployment is holding steady at 9.7 percent. Walden predicts that rate will edge up in the summer before dropping slightly at the end of the year.
“If the consumer isn’t spending, the economy isn’t going to move ahead very fast,” he said.
Walden also says North Carolina is seeing an uptick in jobs. He cites surveys that show job growth in the state in the past few months.
“I think this may be the beginning of sustained job growth. The big question is going to be, ‘How many jobs?’” he said.
Chris Strickland, the general manager of Alsco in Raleigh, said he hasn’t laid off any workers, but the linen services business hasn’t added any either.
“We are surviving, yes,” he said. “We’ve got 120 employees."
Strickland measures productivity by the numbers – ironing 800 restaurant tablecloths an hour, 2,400 hotel bed sheets a day and 1,300 dining napkins an hour.
Strickland’s business is dependent upon two other types of business: the food/hospitality industry, which has taken a hit, and the health care industry, which has remained strong in this economy.
“We’re hoping towards the end of the year we can expand a little bit,” Strickland said.