Expert says NC needs to do more to train, connect and support workers

NC Budget and Tax Center economist Patrick McHugh today reports that local labor market figures for April show an economic recovery for North Carolina that remains largely “a work in progress.”

NC Budget & Tax Center Research Manager Patrick McHugh

McHugh says that while companies in some industries have struggled to hire in recent weeks, many people who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic still cannot find work. Additionally, many of the people who received the lowest wages before COVID-19 have suffered the worst job losses and continue to need significant support to find new jobs.

“There are more people looking for work in most communities in North Carolina than before COVID-19, so we really need to focus on removing the barriers that prevent people from accessing a job, ”McHugh said in a press release. “Some of the challenges that businesses face in finding employees are rooted in the financial barriers people face in re-entering the workforce, and many people need supports like access to child care or child care. training for the new jobs that are created. . “

This is taken from McHugh’s analysis:

The economic challenges facing North Carolina include:

  • More people looking for work in almost every community in North Carolina: Business challenges in finding employees are not rooted in a lack of people willing to work. Figures show more residents were trying to find work in April 2021 than before COVID-19 in 88 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, every major metropolitan area, and most small towns.
  • Fewer people connected to the labor market in almost all communities: The number of people working or looking for work is lower than it was before COVID-19 in all but three North Carolina counties. In addition to the fact that there are not enough jobs for everyone who wants to work, this fact shows that many North Carolinians face barriers to rehire. These obstacles, which are often most pronounced for women and people of color, threaten to create financial damage that could extend well beyond the end of the pandemic.
  • Risk of worsening economic divides between larger cities and some other parts of the state: The recovery is more advanced in some of North Carolina’s larger metropolitan areas such as Charlotte and Raleigh, but many other parts of the state are still much further away from a full recovery. The metropolitan areas that saw the worst declines from February 2020 are Goldsboro (-6.5%), Asheville (-6.1%) and Greensboro-High Point (-5.5%). By comparison, Raleigh is only (2.1%) below pre-COVID employment levels.

  • COVID-19 has either wiped out all job gains or worsened losses since the start of the Great Recession in most counties: In North Carolina, 57 of 100 counties had fewer people working in April 2021 than before the Great Recession. Many areas of the state had never recovered all of the jobs that were lost during the Great Recession, so losses during COVID-19 further compound a long-term problem.

Click here to see county-by-county job changes since the start of the COVID-19 recession and here to see them since the start of the Great Recession.

(Note: The Budget & Tax Center is a project of NC Justice Center – parent organization of NC Policy Watch).