North Carolina sets another employment record in August; jobless rate holds at 3.3 percent

North Carolina sets another employment record in August; jobless rate holds at 3.3 percent

September 25th, 2023

For a second straight month, North Carolina set a record for the number of people with a job at 5,072,983 in August, increasing 12,790 over the month and 103,639 over the year.

According to figures released last week by the N.C. Department of Commerce, seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment, as gathered through the monthly establishment survey, increased 17,500 to 4,945,300 in August.

Major industries experiencing increases were Trade, Transportation & Utilities, 4,700; Education & Health Services, 4,500; Leisure & Hospitality Services, 3,800; Professional & Business Services, 3,100; Government, 2,500; Information, 1,900; Construction, 400; and Other Services, 200. Major industries experiencing decreases were Manufacturing, 3,200; Financial Activities, 300; and Mining & Logging, 100.

The state’s seasonally adjusted August unemployment rate was 3.3 percent, unchanged from July’s revised rate. The national rate increased 0.3 of a percentage point to 3.8 percent.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate decreased 0.6 of a percentage point from a year ago. The number of people unemployed increased 2,183 over the month to 173,576 and decreased 26,778 over the year.

N.C. State economist Dr. Mike Walden told WRAL TechWire that the jobs report has him feeling good about the state’s economy.

“The labor force participation rate also edged up from 60.7% in July to 60.8% in August,” Walden said. “Although the current rate is still under the 61.5% prior to the pandemic, the State’s labor force participation has been steadily climbing, which is good news for employers.”

Walden also noted that NC’s unemployment rate trended differently than the national numbers.

“The largest contrast with the national August labor market numbers was in the unemployment rate,” said Walden. “North Carolina’s rate remained stable, while the national rate rose from 3.5% in July to 3.8% in August. The reason is that not all the new people entering the national labor market in August found jobs. In North Carolina, the new job entrants did find jobs. This difference suggests North Carolina’s labor market has been stronger than the national market in recent months.”

Walden did point out one troubling metric—falling manufacturing jobs.

“In terms of where the new jobs were, most major sectors had good gains, with the one exception being manufacturing,” said Walden. “Manufacturing jobs dropped by 3200. This is reason for caution because manufacturing usually leads other sectors in economic shifts.”

Overall, Walden says that the North Carolina job market is wrestling with the same question as the national market—can job growth continue while the Federal Reserve is trying to slow the economy?

“Interestingly, while monthly job growth has slowed at the national level, job growth in North Carolina has actually accelerated in recent months,” said Walden. “The conclusion: North Carolina’s ‘economic heartbeat’ has been stronger than the nation’s. A stronger ‘economic heartbeat’ should give North Carolina some welcome cushion if the national economy hits a ‘rough patch’ in coming months.”

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