“Who’s fooling who” as the NC jobless rate soars

I’ve said it at home before … many times and now the Charlotte Observer is saying it publicly. The media and power seeking politicos continually tout North Carolina as a mecca for jobs and everything else this side of heaven. Please allow me to explain what I am saying.

North Carolina’s economy is looking more like Michigan’s.

(color and bold added) Joblessness in North Carolina surged a full percentage point in February – the country’s biggest gain – to a record 10.7 percent. That was the nation’s fourth-highest unemployment rate and only a few ticks behind Michigan, which had the highest rate at 12 percent.

This all began when now Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick was Charlotte Mayor Sue Myrick. With her advertsing agency background (she owns one or owned one then) she started out to make Charlotte ‘bigger than Atlanta’. So, she took taxpayer dollars and spent them on advertising in other states. Like most advertising, you hardly recognized the place once they were through with it. Now, I like living here and have my whole life, but it’s not perfect which is how it was presented. So, everyone from the other areas started moving in and it hasn’t stopped yet. Then, it spread across the state. Now, they believe that we actually have jobs though we have job cuts just like the rest of the country.

South Carolina’s unemployment rate rose to 11 percent, up from 10.3 percent in January, the state’s Employment Security Commission reported. That’s the second-highest in the nation and the state’s highest jobless rate since March 1983.

Because Atlanta was considered the financial center of the South, those making their political nest (Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick, Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Republican Mayor Pat McCrory, etc) felt a compulsion to notch their belts with each proclamation that we were bigger, better and more beautiful.

“The labor market continued to unravel in February,” said John Quinterno, research associate at the N.C. Budget & Tax Center in Raleigh, which works on issues affecting the poor. “The numbers are simply atrocious.”

The unemployment rate rise is a preview of what people can expect when county rates come out next week, said UNC Charlotte economist John Connaughton. The Charlotte metro area should continue to have a higher unemployment rate than the state as a whole. In January, Charlotte-area unemployment was 10.5 percent.

Honestly, anyone can move anywhere within our country and that is as it should be, but it made me sick to see my tax dollars being spent in advertising of that sort when I suspected it was simply landing in the coffers of a certain ad agency.

Across North Carolina, employers shed 27,900 jobs during the month as the number of unemployed workers rose to 491,067.

Even so, the state is still winning accolades as a top place for jobs. Just this week, Forbes magazine, in its annual ranking of the best places for business and careers, ranked Charlotte No. 19. Raleigh topped the list.

That’s part of the problem. Such attention draws people from other places to chase opportunities here. In February, the labor force increased by 34,174 people, the second-biggest monthly increase in records dating back 33 years, reflecting that trend.

And, it continues…

For 13 consecutive months, joblessness in North Carolina has risen and is now at a level not seen in more than two decades. Previously, the highest unemployment rate in records dating to 1976 was 10.2 percent, in February 1983.

Charities that deal with emergency food, shelter and warmth needs in Charlotte expect those involved in the latest round of layoffs to begin seeking services in six to eight months – when they tap out their savings.

Some of us remember when North Carolina had American workers in our furniture factories and everyone bought goods that were made in America. You couldn’t get better furniture than Barnhardt, Broyhill, Kincaid, etc. Now the furniture shows have only ‘made in China’, etc. We also lost the cigarette industry (for which I am personally grateful, but we must replace the industry). Then we lost the hosiery mills and on and on.

The unemployment numbers show just how exposed North Carolina is to industries bearing the brunt of this recession: construction, manufacturing and financial services.

The mergers and job cuts that have come in banking have been magnified in this state – and it’s going to get worse. Wachovia, which has been purchased by Wells Fargo, and Charlotte-based Bank of America are expected to lay off thousands in the state as they chart their way forward.

“When you look at the state’s economy, we have a much larger exposure to many of the industries that are getting hit the hardest,” said Mark Vitner, an economist with Wachovia, now a division of Wells Fargo.

The construction sector grew in recent years as strong population gains increased demand for new homes, stores and businesses. The housing market turmoil and steep declines in commercial real estate have set that trend in reverse. In the past year, construction businesses in North Carolina shed 41,500 workers.

What I am trying to explain here isn’t meant to be taken as an affront to anyone moving here. I am simply trying to point out that we have been misrepresented and it is now beginning to show ‘big time’. I feel compassion for those who have been misled to believe that if they just take their last check and move here all will be fine… it won’t happen that way. There are thousands here seeking jobs too and most are very qualified (another misconception). The jobs must come back nationwide and that is when we will see ‘real change’ in our economy.


~ by citizenjournalistreview on March 29, 2009.

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