|(Click here for an interactive version.)
Economic challenges facing North Carolina include:
- Unprecedented spike in unemployment claims: Over 635,000 North Carolinians have filed Unemployment Insurance claims since March 15, when the COVID-19 outbreak began causing major job losses in North Carolina. That means over 13 percent of the people working before the COVID-19 recession began have submitted unemployment insurance claims, the fastest mass loss of jobs on record.
- Headline unemployment rate won’t tell the full story of this recession: The headline unemployment rate jumped to 4.4 percent in March, but this measure doesn’t fully capture the economic harm of the COVID-19 outbreak. The headline rate only captures people who are actively looking for work, so it won’t reveal the true extent of job and income losses for North Carolina families. Particularly during an event like this, when many people are being furloughed from work, are caring for children or other family members, or aren’t looking for work simply because there are no jobs to be found, the headline unemployment rate only reveals the tip of the iceberg.
- The labor force participation rate fell more than the official unemployment increased: While the headline unemployment rate increased by 0.8 percent, the labor force participation rate declined by almost 2 percent. Over 145,000 North Carolinians dropped out of the labor market entirely in March, a clear signal of how bad things became in just the first few weeks of the outbreak.
For charts showing the most recent labor data, including the context of COVID-19 effects, visit the Budget & Tax Center’s Labor Market page at NCJustice.org/labormarket.
For more context on the economic choices facing North Carolina, check out the Budget & Tax Center’s Prosperity Watch report.