RALEIGH – Though North Carolina’s unemployment rate remained consistent in June compared to the prior month, with unemployment at 3.4% statewide, there are some signs that the state’s booming labor market could be slowing or reversing.
Take, for instance, the decrease in the number of job openings in North Carolina’s technology sector, as in this week’s NC TECH IT Jobs Report.
Between May 2022 and June 2022, the report found, IT job openings dropped nearly 10%.
And there were decreases in job openings last week on a number of job posting websites, especially for roles based at startup companies, the most recent WRAL TechWire Jobs Report found.
Then, this week, both Invitae and Arrival, venture-backed startups that had made commitments to open facilities in North Carolina, disclosed that layoffs may be coming to their companies. Arrival may lay off as much as 30% of its workforce, though the company has not yet disclosed where layoffs would occur, or whether any of its North Carolina workers would be impacted, including those that are based from the company’s North American headquarters in Charlotte.
And Invitae, which last year announced it would open a Morrisville-based facility an invest about $114 million, may lay off as many as 1,000 workers across the globe, a disclosure filed with the SEC noted this week.
State of NC labor market
Still, the latest employment data is a positive sign for the state’s economy, said Dr. Michael Walden, a William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emeritus at North Carolina State University and a regular contributor to WRAL TechWire, in response to an inquiry from WRAL TechWire about the latest statewide unemployment data.
“The Fed will continue to raise interest rates, so we should enjoy the good news while it here,” said Walden.
While some companies, such as Microsoft and Google, have announced job cuts or slowdowns in hiring in recent weeks, one Fortune 500 company with a significant presence in the Triangle, Eaton, is planning to add to its workforce during the remainder of the year.
And though the most recent month of data shows that June was a strong month for the state’s labor market, said Walden, it wasn’t strong all the way across the board, as there was a negative: a drop in manufacturing jobs.
It’s not just that there were fewer workers in manufacturing. It’s that manufacturing facilities may be closing, as documents filed under law with the North Carolina Department of Commerce show that multiple manufacturing facilities in North Carolina will permanently close.
That includes a Medline Industries facility in Salisbury, N.C., which will close, resulting in impacting nearly 100 workers.
“Medline has made the very difficult decision to close our surgical procedure kit manufacturing facility in Salisbury, N.C. and move the volume produced there to the other sites within the company,” a spokesperson for the company told WRAL TechWire this week. “The decision to close Medline’s Salisbury plant is in no way reflective of our appreciation for our team’s efforts or the quality of their work but is based on the available capacity within our manufacturing network.”
The company will host an on-site jobs fair for the affected employees, and enable them to apply to other roles in other company facilities, the spokesperson noted.
Down the road in China Grove, a manufacturer of automotive supplies will close its facility and will lay off 81 workers.
Bye, bye boom?
So is the job market boom over, and the balance of power shifting away from workers?
It’s too soon to tell, just as it is still too soon to state that the economy is in a recession, said Dr. Gerald Cohen, the chief economist at the Kenan Institute, earlier this month.
Still, Cohen and Walden provided advice for job seekers in North Carolina, as reported by WRAL TechWire earlier this week. And, WRAL TechWire will continue to report on the labor market through regular reporting and on the Triangle and state’s job market in the weekly WRAL TechWire Jobs Report, issued on Tuesdays.