Economist: Latest NC employment news triggers warning signs | WRALTechWire

Editors’ note: North Carolina’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for September 2023 was 3.4 percent, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from August’s adjusted rate, reports the North Carolina Department of Commerce. What does it mean? WRAL TechWire reached out to NC State economist Dr. Mike Walden for analysis.

North Carolina largely missed national job growth last month, a report Walden called shocking. September’s national jobs report was shocking. Most analysts expected September’s net job gain to be between 150,000 and 200,000. Instead, net job gain was an astonishing 336,000. Now, his take on the North Carolina numbers.


RALEIGH Overall, North Carolina’s September jobs report was positive, although there were some warning signs.

On the positive side, more than 10,000 non-agricultural jobs have been created, the labor force has increased by 18,000, the labor force participation rate has increased to 60.9% and several sectors have experienced significant job growth, in particular trade/transport/utilities, education /health and professional services.

But there were three negative signals.

Mike Walden (NCSU photo)

The 10,000 job gain was 60% lower than the August gain. 900 jobs were lost in the manufacturing industry, while employment in the leisure and hospitality industries fell by 1,600.

Changes in the manufacturing sector tend to lead to changes in the overall economy, and job losses in the leisure/hospitality sector represent a major reversal of the sector’s strong gains in recent months.

Finally, while the unemployment rate remained relatively low at 3.4%, it increased from August’s 3.3%, and the total number of unemployed people increased by 3,100.

September inflation numbers: good, bad and uncertain, says NC State economist

Recession, more layoffs ahead?

The immediate concern is whether these results signal a coming recession and significant layoffs. Based on the data and trends we currently have, I predict the economy will slow down, not get worse.

I expect overall growth to continue, but at a slower pace. Even in the event of a slowdown rather than a recession, manufacturing jobs will be more vulnerable, as will construction jobs. Tech jobs are in a transition phase as the tech sector moderates its employment targets after rapidly growing job numbers during the pandemic.

My slogan is caution, but not fear.

We have a few difficult months ahead of us, but I don’t see any major crash.

However, I have a reservation. A new factor to consider is the Middle East conflict. If the fighting expanded to directly involve all countries involved, particularly Iran and the United States, oil prices could rise significantly, ultimately pushing gas prices to perhaps $4 a gallon or more and triggering a global recession.

September jobs report is shocking, says NC State economist

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