Editorial: NC Unemployment Rate Doesn’t Tell The Full Story
In an editorial, the News and Observer throws some cold water on the rosy picture of North Carolin’a economy that Senator Berger and Governor McCrory are promoting. As they note, if you factor in everyone who has dropped out of the work force, the unemployment rate would be close to 7%. From the editorial,
The statement from Phil Berger, president pro tem of the state Senate, was breathless. Berger, the General Assembly’s most powerful lawmaker and a rock-ribbed conservative, was responding to the drop in the state’s unemployment rate to 5.8 percent, lowest since May 2008.
Said Berger: “Due to smart economic policies enacted by Republican officials over the past four years – reducing wasteful government spending, lowering taxes and returning sanity back to our state’s regulatory climate – North Carolina is setting an example for the rest of the nation on how to combat unemployment.”
There are two problems with this claim. One is that the national recovery – the Dow just passed 18,000 to reach a record high – is lifting North Carolina’s economy more than anything the state has done, or rather has done less of. Secondly, the reality in most households doesn’t match Berger’s triumphant enthusiasm.
In truth, while the unemployment rate has gone down and the state is adding jobs, things are not what they seem. Economists say the state has a large number of people who don’t have skills that match the jobs available and therefore have given up looking for work. They’re out of the labor force, in other words, so they don’t count in the percentages of unemployed people seeking work.