N.C. job growth continues while government sector declines

Aug. 18, 2014 @ 05:47 PM

Employment increased by 2.2 percent since July of last year for the Durham-Chapel Hill’s Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Since last year, unemployment rates have fallen in all 100 North Carolina counties.
And nearly every major employment sector in North Carolina is growing.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any one category that would blow your mind but it’s been a steady increase across all sectors,” said Ted Conner, vice president of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, about job growth in Durham.
Conner cited MetLife, Fidelity Investments and Blue Cross & Blue Shield as examples of companies ramping up workforce growth at the local and state level.
According to the release, employment increased since last year by 38.7 percent in professional and business services, 22.1 percent in trade, transportation and utilities, and 8.8 percent in leisure and hospitality services.
“The hospitality sector didn’t take a big hit during the recession as one would think,” Conner said.
Government was the only sector without increasing employment; its jobs decreased by 4.9 percent since July of 2013.
James Kleckley, director of the Bureau of Business Research at East Carolina University, said in an email that many of the government losses are associated with fewer available dollars at the state and local level.
Jobs at the federal level declined by 17,000 since July 2013, according to the BBR, but Kleckley said in reality the federal job loss is small because the data includes temporary jobs associated with the Census.
The North Carolina government job losses occurred at the state and local level, with 3,000 jobs lost in local government and 2,300 in state government. Federal government jobs within North Carolina increased by 400 since last year.
Larry Parker, a spokesperson for the Department of Commerce, said a large portion of state and local government jobs are in educational services.
Not seasonally adjusted, nearly 60 percent of North Carolina government job losses since last July were within educational services, according to the Commerce Department.
According to documents from the City of Durham, the number of government employees per 1,000 residents has been decreasing since 2012.
For fiscal year 2012-2013, there were 10 employees per 1,000 residents. For fiscal year 2013-2014, there were 9.7.
And even though the Durham population is growing each year, authorized positions in government departments are remaining the same or decreasing.
The total number of authorized positions decreased by 15 from 2012-2013 to 2013-2014. The estimated population of Durham increased by around 2 percent during that time.
At 6.5 percent, North Carolina’s July unemployment rate is 0.3 percent higher than the U.S. rate of 6.2 percent.
Durham County’s July unemployment rate is 5.3 percent. Orange County has one of the lowest rates in the state at 4.8 percent.
The average hourly earnings for North Carolina workers in private sector jobs increased by 8 cents, since last July, from $21.52 to $21.60
Conner said employers are still cautious about hiring, temporary workforces are increasing and employee screening filters are becoming increasingly elaborate.
“Employers are still keeping a tight thumb on wages,” he said.