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Loss Of Construction, Manufacturing Jobs During Recession Keeps NC Unemployment High


Government figures released Friday showed North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 9.6 percent. That’s fifth-worst in the country. But the state is recovering, albeit slowly.

About 62,000 more North Carolinians held jobs in September than a year ago. But even with that improvement, unemployment is still close to 10 percent, while nationally it’s under 8 percent.

“We are still significantly lagging the rest of the United States,” said Allan Freyer, analyst with the N.C. Budget and Tax Center.

Here’s the biggest reason why:

“Before the recession, North Carolina was over-concentrated in the very sectors that got hit the hardest during the recession,” Freyer said.

Compared to the rest of the country, Freyer said North Carolina had a greater share of manufacturers and construction workers. Since Dec. 2007, those two sectors alone have accounted for two out of every three jobs lost in the state.

Construction got crushed because of the housing collapse. And a lot of the manufacturing jobs North Carolina specialized in, like textiles and furniture, have moved overseas. 

“And so a consequence has been the manufacturing recovery within the state has been weaker than the manufacturing recovery in the nation as a whole,” Freyer said.

Manufacturing employment in the state did grow in the last year. Problem is, it grew less than half a percent.

Freyer also said state and local government jobs cuts have contributed to the slow recovery in North Carolina.