Good or bad?

In April the unemployment rate in many states dropped, but not so here in North Carolina. The jobless rate remained at 9.7 percent. Does this mean our labor market is struggling more? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden says “not necessarily.”

“This is, again, where you have to go behind the headline numbers. And actually if you look at the number of jobs in the state, we have two job surveys. They went up in both surveys — went up by almost 3,000 in one survey and by 11,000 in the other.

“The reason the unemployment rate didn’t fall is because the number of people looking for work increased by about 10,000. And what this means is that in the prior month we had about 10,000 people who didn’t have a job. But because they weren’t actively looking for work, they’re not count as unemployed. When they start looking for work – again … in April – they’re also counted as unemployed. So, I think that explains the fact that the rate did not change.

“So, I think we can be encouraged by the fact that we have had job increases in North Carolina. But clearly there’s still a lot of people out of work; that 9.7 percent is a very high rate. We’ve got a lot of additional work to do in improving the labor market.”

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