News: CJ Exclusives

N.C. Experiences 41st Straight Month of 9-Percent Unemployment

Public education job losses offset by gains from private educators

The state’s unemployment rate for May remained unchanged at 9.4 percent, marking the 41st consecutive month the unemployment rate has been 9.0 percent or higher. In seasonally adjusted terms, last month the state lost 16,500 jobs, the highest number in the nation.

North Carolina also had the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the nation.

The seasonal adjustment measure is a statistical concept used to estimate how many jobs would exist if seasonal factors such as holiday shopping seasons, school years, or anticipated weather fluctuations did not exist.

In not seasonally adjusted terms, which reflect real-time surveys of employers, the state’s private sector added 12,900 jobs, while the government sector lost 1,400 jobs. The seasonally adjusted “loss” indicates that employment models predicted the state should have added even more jobs.

The unemployment figures were reported by the state’s Labor and Economic Analysis Division of the Department of Commerce.

Employment in education remains a hot topic politically, and in not seasonally adjusted terms, North Carolina actually has added 1,700 education jobs over the past year. From May 2011 to May 2012, employment in local government education services (PreK-12 schools) fell by 4,800 jobs, or 2.12 percent, from 231,300 to 226,500. State government education services (community colleges and the University of North Carolina system) lost 1,200 jobs, or 1.1 percent.

Meantime, over the same period, private education added 7,700 jobs — 4,400 in higher education and 3,300 in all other categories of private education, including charter schools. State officials categorize public charter schools as private employers for the purpose of gathering employment statistics.

Rick Henderson is managing editor of Carolina Journal.