North Carolina appears to be ending the year on an up note for jobs, with the state jobless rate down to 8 percent after peaking at more than 11 percent during the recession. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden discusses whether we’ll continue to see progress in 2014.
“Well, of course, you are asking me to forecast, … and any economist will say, ‘Take all our forecasts with a big grain of salt.’ But it looks like we’re … trending pretty well. It looks like we are going to add at least 80,000 jobs this year in North Carolina, when all is said and done. And that beats last year, and it’s over twice as many the previous year.
“As you said, the jobless rate (is) down to 8 percent, and I do see these gains continuing in 2014. In fact, I see some acceleration in the North Carolina economy. I think next year, 2014, maybe (adding) 100,000 jobs. And if … everything works out right, maybe by the end of 2014, we will see the jobless rate in the state down near 7 percent. Of course, that would be great.
“Now we still have lots of job issues. One is that 70 percent of those jobs that have been created in the state are in three areas — the Charlotte area, the Triangle and the Triad. We’re not spreading them across the state.
“Educational attainment is still an issue in many parts of our state. That’s hurting those areas in attracting a knowledge base (and) higher-paying jobs.
“And if you look at (the jobs that are being created) in terms of pay, they’re at the top of the pay scale and also the lower end of the pay scale, but not much in the middle.”