RALEIGH – North Carolina’s latest unemployment number certainly don’t reflect a slowing economy or an immediate threat of recession. The latest numbers show the state’s jobless rate fell for the third straight month and fourth in the last five, dropping to match the national average of 3.4%.

So what’s going on? N.C. State economist Dr. Mike Walden, who has moved ever closer to forecasting a recession- perhaps one without loss of jobs – says the report is “positive.”

But why?

“The continuing strength of the job market is based on two factors – the enormous vitality of the NC economy, and the on-going recovery from COVID,” Walden tells WRAL TechWire.

Bottom line: “Consumers still want to spend!!”

New numbers are seasonably adjusted so the real numbers for April could be worse. Last month, Walden described not seasonably adjusted numbers broken down by counties and metro areas as “bad news.”

“The appropriate comparison is year-over-year because – as Commerce states – the monthly numbers are not adjusted for typical seasonal changes,” he added.

Friday’s report is 0.1%  higher than April 2022.

Latest NC employment data is ‘bad news,’ says NC State economist Walden

The April report issued by the N.C. Department of Commerce shows more people working with most categories it tracks showing growth.

“The number of people employed increased 16,200 over the month to 5,012,688 and increased 24,183 over the year,” Commerce reported.

“The number of people unemployed decreased 4,221 over the month to 178,853 and increased 6,517 over the year.”

Numbers were seasonably adjusted.

Despite the slight year-over-year increase in the number of jobless, Walden described the report this way:

“A positive report with more jobs and lower unemployment.  But the pace of improvement in the labor market is slowing, which is not unexpected with the Fed’s effort to reduce growth in order to curtail inflation.  The big question is whether we will have months where employment drops.  Hopefully not.”

NC Department of Commerce chart

Here’s the Commerce breakdown on jobs by categories:

  • Major industries experiencing increases were Education & Health Services, 3,000; Trade, Transportation & Utilities, 3,000; Financial Activities, 1,200; Other Services, 700; and Construction, 300.
  • Major industries experiencing decreases were Professional & Business Services, 1,800; Leisure & Hospitality Services, 1,400; Manufacturing, 1,100; Information, 200; and Government, 100.
  • Mining & Logging employment remained unchanged.
  • Since April 2022, Total Nonfarm jobs increased 117,100 with the Total Private sector increasing by 110,600 and Government increasing by 6,500.
  • Major industries experiencing increases were Leisure & Hospitality Services, 29,200; Education & Health Services, 27,700; Professional & Business Services, 17,100; Other Services, 9,400; Construction, 8,000; Trade, Transportation & Utilities, 6,700; Government, 6,500; Financial Activities, 6,100; Manufacturing, 3,400; and Information, 3,100.
  • The only major industry experiencing a decrease over the year was Mining & Logging, 100.