All eyes are on the job market for indications the economy is getting better. Here in North Carolina, we’ve been disappointed that our state unemployment rate continues to track higher than the national rate. But N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says there is some good news about the state job picture.
“North Carolina was really clobbered by the recession, primarily due to the fact that we are more of a manufacturing state than the nation. If you look at the decline in jobs from about 2007 to 2010, we lost 8 percent of our job base, compared to a loss of 6 percent for the nation.
“But we do have some good news. Since the job market bottomed out in early 2010, North Carolina has actually gained jobs at a faster pace than the nation — not a lot, but a faster pace. We’ve added 2.9 percent to our job base, compared to 2.7 percent for the nation. So that is good news. That is telling us that North Carolina’s economy and particularly jobs beginning to pick up, and actually picking up a little faster than the nation.
“Now again, why is our unemployment rate higher? Well, that’s because with that 8 percent drop in our job base when the recession was in high gear — that really put us into a deep hole. So I’m cautiously optimistic that this year will continue to add jobs. I’m predicting maybe between 75,000 and 80,000 jobs in the state. And I think we also will continue to grow faster both in total output as well as jobs in the nation.”