State News

Days after Obama visit, NC sees jobless rate inch up

Posted October 21, 2011
Updated October 22, 2011


— Days after President Barack Obama stumped in North Carolina for his jobs proposals, officials reported Friday that the state's unemployment rate edged up in September.

The state Employment Security Commission reported that the jobless rate was 10.5 percent, up from 10.4 percent in August. The rate is the highest in a year and a half and remains far above the national average of 9.1 percent.

The number of unemployed people statewide increased by 4,498 in September, to 473,937, while the number of people with jobs increased by 1,324, to 4,032,376, according to the ESC.

Home remodeling, home improvement Construction one of few bright spots in NC jobless report

Obama says his jobs proposals would put thousands of North Carolina teachers, police officers, construction workers and others back to work. The U.S. Senate rebuffed his American Jobs Act last week and defeated a portion this week that called for giving money to local governments for hiring after the president decided to introduce the measure piecemeal. The Senate next plans to take up a $60 billion proposal for infrastructure improvements nationwide.

North Carolina's construction industry showed the greatest gains in September, adding 2,800 jobs, while the public sector lost 13,700 jobs and the financial industry dropped 3,000, the ESC reports.

Michael West, who has worked in construction for years, said he went into business for himself when the industry collapsed in the sub-prime mortgage meltdown a few years ago.

"It's been pretty bad up until about six months ago," West said, noting he's recently been nailing down jobs like tearing down a screened porch and replacing it with a multi-level deck.

"I'm seeing work come after work, which I haven't seen in the last three or four years," he said.

Permits for new home construction in Wake County soared 89 percent, from 222 in January to 420 in August, while permits for home additions and remodeling jumped 69 percent, from 314 to 533, in the same period.

Still, employment experts said they don't believe single-family homes are driving the market.

"I think we're seeing much more multi-use apartments," said Jeff Stocks of staffing company Manpower. "Many families are just looking for flexibility, and we're seeing construction go up in that area."

Another Manpower executive, Jonas Prising, said the unemployment picture is more stark when looking at people's education and skills levels.

"The unemployment rate for those with a college degree is 4.7 percent in September on a nationwide basis. For those without a high school diploma, it's 18 or 19 percent," Prising said. "So, you're seeing a very strong divergence between those (who) have skills that are in demand and those (who) don't have the skills or have been out of the workforce for a long time."

West said he just hopes the worst is behind him.

"I don't want to jinx anything, (but) yeah, it's looking much better," he said. "It's easier now to think about vacations and those kinds of things because we're able to set some money back, which is good."

Government job losses mount

In the past year, private-sector jobs in North Carolina have increased by 28,400, while state and local governments have shed 18,700 jobs.

Federal government added about 100 jobs and the state 2,600 jobs in September, but local governments cut 16,400 jobs from their payrolls – a nearly 4 percent drop in one month – many of them teachers.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction reported last month that more than 4,000 teachers and teaching assistants were cut in the state budget that took effect in July. Nearly half were people who were laid off.

Republican lawmakers said those numbers were preliminary and predicted that most laid-off teachers would be rehired.

"Of course (school districts) would like to rehire them, but I'm not getting a lot of feedback that they are doing a lot of that now," Philip Price, DPI's chief financial officer, said Friday.

Classroom generic, school teacher Teachers likely make up large portion of lost government jobs

According to the ESC, there were 15,700 fewer education jobs in North Carolina in September than a year ago. Price said, however, that DPI doesn't have figures on teaching positions statewide because local districts decide how many people to hire with the per-student money provided by the state. Also, federal and local funds pay for some teaching positions.

"We usually are set up to report in December what is the enrollment picture out there," he said. "We have 200,000-plus people employed in our public schools, so it's difficult to pick a point in time and gather that information."

Sheri Strickland, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said she expects the state will find that a large chuck of the lost government jobs belonged to teachers.

"I'm sure that many of those we will find out were teacher jobs because the locals ended up with such a large discretionary cut," Strickland said. "Given the cuts that they've sustained over the past couple of years, they were left with nowhere to go but to people."

The state's unemployment rate increase between July and August was one of the sharpest in the country, behind only Illinois and Pennsylvania – two other states in which manufacturing has been a big employer.

North Carolina has lost 289,300 non-farm jobs since the recession began in December 2007, with manufacturers shedding nearly one out of five positions, or 99,300 jobs in that time.


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  • Mark Hayes Oct 21, 2011

    The American people in general are being taken for a ride,both parties are really just an extensions from the same hand,BIG GOVERNMENT,they need each other to survive because without the constant in fighting it would be so much easier to identify the culprits,plus they get well paid to put on the show we get each week,sort of like Pro Wrestling,it's all a big fake show by opponents who share the same locker room.

  • Boogalooboy Oct 21, 2011

    and in some strange manner is WRAL trying to give him credit... really...

  • miseem Oct 21, 2011

    But I thought that the NC General Assembly was going to concentrate on producing jobs. At least that was their campaign promise. Seems like their social agenda got in the way, huh. Well, at least they made it easier for corporations to pollute the state, bail bondsmen to keep funds from clients that skip bail (even if they lie about why they should get it back), incompetent doctors to keep malpractice awards low. Of course, they made it harder to vote, get an abortion (maybe that was their idea of a jobs bill - increase the number of ultrasound techs) or get in a school with adequate supplies and teachers. Where are all of these jobs they promised? Don't come back and say Perdue vetoed their jobs bills. The bills she vetoed had nothing to do with the unemployment rate.

  • vraptor Oct 21, 2011

    Bye Bye jobs :(


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  • Mark Hayes Oct 21, 2011

    Even though his time has come and gone Ralph Nader as much as he was critisized for being way over the top had more incite as to what was going to happen to this country by staying on the course we have been on for both of the last administrations,a look into his predictions and campaign speeches and the honesty they brought to the public was quieted by big business and Wall Streets financial district leaders,he was a little scary sometimes with his hard hitting,punch to the gut politics but he was actually of the people,his fortune telling of what sending jobs overseas has proved itself to be true as well as many more subjects he elaborated on,his knowleddge of economics is that which I have not seen by any of these in or running for office today,he just was too darn honest but his background and views make for interesting reading even for the youth of today,for many of us change will never come fast enough to reap the benefits but for the young they would be wise to look back at some

  • Obama 2012 Oct 21, 2011

    I would like to declare that the rise in un-employment is the fault of the republicans who hijacked our state assembly this past fall.

  • Mark Hayes Oct 21, 2011

    Knowing that you are going to get paid for doing nothing and very well at that takes the threat of having to produce out of the picture,and thats what we have in our local,state and federal levels of government,some type of projected improvements should be in place for them to be regulated by,but they regulate themselves and keep blaming each other,if politicians were paid by results I am sure they would try something together or at least put forth an effort,if it does not work try something else,the voting public,who should really be electing our officials,would be more receptive to a try and fail approach than none at all,the bail out of big business and trickle down approach has not worked so move on to the next thing which would be the trickle up effect giving some of these government contracts out to multiple smaller businesses and see how that works,as of right now we are traeding water and that can only keep you afloat for so long.

  • storchheim Oct 21, 2011

    Yes, thanks for the State layoffs. Except I'm serious. It's a step in the right direction.

  • Plenty Coups Oct 21, 2011

    Thanks for the state layoffs!

  • Screw WrAl Oct 21, 2011

    Bev continues to bring us those jobs don't she y'all.

    I de claire, way to go Bev. You are doing this state no good in any form and we wish you'd just resign and let Pat take over now so that we can start our decade long recovery today. Not a year from now.