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Job progress

N.C. State University economist Mike Walden takes stock of what’s happened in the job market over the past year, providing key numbers for both North Carolina and the country.

“Well, we’ve made progress — not a lot, but we’ve made progress. We’ve added about 1.5 million non-farm jobs in the nation over the last year. Here in North Carolina, we’ve added over 40,000 non-farm jobs. So, that’s a plus.

“I think why people perhaps are not real excited about that is that we lost during the recession 8 million jobs nationally and about 330,000 here in North Carolina. So we still have a long way to go.

“We’ve seen the unemployment rate drop both nationally by about 1.2 percentage points; here in North Carolina, about 1.6 percentage points.

“We’ve actually seen wages and salaries and the average pay for jobs created increase faster here in North Carolina than in the nation. North Carolina’s actually adding more higher-paying jobs at a faster clip than in the nation.

“Now on the downside, we’re also creating a lot of low-paying jobs. And we’ve also in North Carolina had a significant number of people simply drop out of the labor force. They want a job, but they’re not actively looking for work. That accounts in North Carolina right now for about 2 percent of the labor force, compared to only a half percent for the nation.”