The headline says the unemployment rate is “holding steady.” If you read into The Charlotte Observer’s story, you get a better understanding of WHY (and it ain’t good) :
North Carolina’s unemployment rate was unchanged last month at 9.4 percent, breaking a four-month streak of declining unemployment rates, state officials said Friday.
The total number of unemployed North Carolinians dropped by almost 4,000 people, but the rate remained the same because the size of the work force got smaller.
What that means is the government did some fancy accounting to doctor the numbers. Reduce the total population of people you’re talking about, and the percentage stays the same. Children, jail inmates, and senior citizens typically are not counted as part of the “workforce.” It sounds like now the government is also excluding people whose unemployment benefits have expired, and — maybe — people who have been on unemployment six months or longer. This practice gives politicians great PR benefits, but does nothing for the economy or the people who are suffering because of it. Read On:
The rate was previously unwavering at 10.7 percent between July and September, but had been gradually declining since October.
North Carolina’s May unemployment rate is 1.1 percentage points lower than its May 2011 rate. The state fares worse than the national rate, which rose slightly to 8.2 percent in May.
“The NC state economy is continuing to not grow at a sufficient enough rate to put much of a dent in the unemployment rate,” said Harry Davis, professor of banking at Appalachian State University. “We simply are not creating enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate and absorb people entering the labor force.”
The largest job creation was in the Trade, Transportation and Utilities sector, which added nearly 2,000 jobs. Government jobs slightly declined by about 700 positions. Davis noted continued declines in the construction and leisure sectors as particularly problematic.
“It’s not making the comeback needed to get the unemployment rate down very much,” Davis said of the construction industry. “It continues to flounder, and if it wasn’t for apartment buildings there wouldn’t be much going on right now.”
The size of the work force in North Carolina continues to shrink. Nearly 10,000 workers left the labor force between April and May.
“Unfortunately, I believe we’re going to live with an unemployment rate in the 9 percents for quite some time, at least for the rest of the year,” Davis said. “Hopefully, that’s not the new norm.”