New Home Construction

A construction worker is seen on the roof of a new home under construction in Mebane, North Carolina on  Jan. 10, 2022. 

(The Center Square) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate for June remained unchanged for the third consecutive month at 3.4%, despite employers adding thousands of jobs over the last month, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The state’s unemployment rate remains 0.2% below the national unemployment rate of 3.6%, which also remained the same in June.

The North Carolina unemployment rate has dropped by 1.6% over the last year, with employers steadily adding jobs as the country emerges from the pandemic. That growth, however, has seemingly slowed, with employers adding less than half as many jobs in June as in May. Data shows 12,675 more people employed in June for a total of 4,929,133, an increase of 215,137 from June 2021.

The number of people unemployed increased by 1,767 from last month to 172,658, which is 74,565 fewer than a year ago.

"The state’s labor force, including employed individuals and unemployed individuals searching for work, grew to 5,101,791 persons in June, notably close to the January 2020 pre-pandemic level of 5,110,632," wrote Paige Terryberry, senior analyst for fiscal policy at the John Locke Foundation.

A data tracker on the Department of Commerce website shows labor force participation hit 60.5% in June, just 1.1% off the pre-pandemic rate.

Seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment increased 22,700 to 4,754,100 in June, with the biggest gains from industries including Education and Health Services at 5,700; Professional and Business Services at 5,000; Trade, Transportation and Utilities at 3,700; Construction at 3,000 and Government at 2,600.

The total nonfarm jobs has increased by 152,000 over the last year, with the private sector adding 160,800 and government losing 8,800, according to Department of Commerce data.

Terryberry notes that while North Carolina continues to add jobs, wages are declining due to raging inflation.

"In North Carolina, according to the most recent data, wages declined 1.53% over the month (not seasonally adjusted) from $1,024.16 to $1,008.44. Over the past year, average private wages are up 4.76% in the state," she wrote.

"Now at an annualized rate of 9.1%, inflation overtakes these wage gains. Inflation is a tax on all Americans. But low- and middle-class households and those on fixed incomes are hit hardest. Savings, too, are devalued."

Other recent data shows inflation could be factoring into closures and layoff notices in the Tar Heel State, though the exact cause for a recent increase is unclear.

The Department of Commerce’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Report for 2022 details 20 plant closures or layoff notices impacting at least a third of active employees or 50 workers.

So far in 2022, the notices have come from a variety of businesses, from restaurants to tobacco companies to banks, manufacturers and sanitation services, impacting more than 2,400 workers. Nearly half of those impacted — 1,170 — received layoff notices since the start of June.

Those notices, however, remain behind pace for recent years, with 5,604 workers impacted in 2021, 31,407 who received notices in 2020, and 8,109 notified of layoffs in 2019.

The WARN notices do not include layoffs at smaller companies or smaller layoffs at larger companies.