Area adds 5,900 jobs for year through May
The Durham-Chapel Hill metro area added 5,900 jobs year-over-year in May, with the largest gains made in the leisure and hospitality sector.
That’s according to preliminary data from the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Labor & Economic Analysis Division, based on a survey of employers. The survey showed year-over-year growth of 2.1 in May with the net addition of 5,900 jobs.
The biggest job gain in the period was from the leisure and hospitality sector, which added 1.700 jobs. The next-biggest job creators were education and health services and professional and business services.
Allan Freyer, a public policy analyst with the N.C. Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center, said there’s a “real cause of concern” in the types of jobs being created. He said job gains are occurring “largely in low-wage industries” such as leisure and hospitality.
“Lower wages means fewer customers for local businesses, lower sales, lower profits, and ultimately slower job creation,” he said in an email.
Compared with April, there was job growth of 0.2 percent in May with an increase of 600 jobs. The biggest job loss was in government, which saw a decline of 1,000 jobs. The biggest job gains were in the education and leisure and hospitality sectors.
According to preliminary, seasonally-adjusted data from the department based on a household survey, the unemployment rate in the metro area ticked up slightly in one month’s time to land at 5.1 percent in May.
The metro area was not alone – nine of the state’s 14 metro areas saw unemployment rate increases in May compared with April, according to the seasonally adjusted data. The rates in the others did not change.
In the Durham-Chapel Hill area, there was a 2.5 percent increase in the number of unemployed people in the area in the month, while the size of the labor force remained relatively flat, growing at less than 1 percent.
Meanwhile, employment grew more slowly. The metro area saw an employment increase of 444 – for a rate of growth that was less than one percent at .17 percent – in the month compared with April.
The rate in May was down more significantly compared with the same month last year, when the rate was 6.4 percent. Unemployment was down year-over-year by almost 20 percent, while the labor force grew by less than 1 percent. Employment grew by 1.9 percent, with the addition of 4,990 workers.
James W. Kleckley, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the East Carolina University College of Business, said in an email that in areas throughout the state, he’s seen the number of unemployed workers growing at least as fast as the number of people with jobs.
“If this trend continues, it means that the unemployment rate in the state will continue to drift upwards,” Kleckley said in an email.