The North Carolina unemployment rate has climbed to 4.5%, the highest level it’s reached in the past seven months, and nearly one-tenth higher than the national average of 4.1%. The North Carolina jobless rate hit some industries harder than others, with the overall workforce declining as well, compared to October. The North Carolina job losses come several months after the state’s disastrous transgender bathroom bill, a law that cost the state billions of dollars in business.
Data released Tuesday by the Sate Commerce Department revealed that the North Carolina unemployment rate was the highest it had been since May, after falling to the national average in October of 4.1%.
About 12,000 fewer people were employed in December, while about 8,000 more people were without work compared to November. Another 3,000 or so people dropped out of the workforce entirely.
The North Carolina unemployment statistics paint the picture of a state that struggled in December compared to its fellow states.
North Carolina Last Saw an Increase in Unemployment Rate in January 2017
The North Carolina unemployment rate in January 2017 showed a similar dip, with months of job gains followed by a blip in the trend.
In January, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.3%, increasing 0.1% from December 2016. That national rate at the time was sitting at 4.8%.
But North Carolina job losses weren’t as bad in January 2017 as they were in December, as the January 2017 unemployment stats were unchanged compared to 2016. While stagnancy in job creation is not something residents want to see, it goes without saying that it’s still preferable to the alternative, where job losses rise and unemployment falls.
The North Carolina unemployment rate in January 2017 did increase by 3,298 compared to the previous month, however, to 260,150, and rose by 1,780 over the year.
North Carolina Transgender Law Reaped Havoc on the State’s Economy
One of the biggest economic hits that North Carolina took in 2017 was the fallout after the state passed a controversial bathroom law regarding transgender people.
The North Carolina transgender law forced people to use the bathrooms that corresponded with the sex they were assigned at birth. Largely seen as an anti-transgender attack, many companies and events pulled out of the state in response.
One analysis estimated that the state will lose more than $3.76 billion over a dozen years, as well as hundreds of jobs in the immediate aftermath of the North Carolina transgender law passing.
Naturally, the North Carolina unemployment rate was likely impacted by the move as well. PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL) withdrew a 400-job project in Charlotte and CoStar Group Inc (NASDAQ:CSGP) backed out of a deal that would have brought more than 700 jobs to the state. Deutsche Bank AG (ETR:DBK), meanwhile, cancelled a plan to create 250 jobs in the Raleigh area. And those are just some of the more public withdrawals.
“Companies are moving to other places because they don’t face an issue that they face here,” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan told a World Affairs Council of Charlotte luncheon last month. “What’s going on that you don’t know about? What convention decided to take you off the list? What location for a distribution facility took you off the list? What corporate headquarters consideration for a foreign company–there’s a lot of them out there–just took you off the list because they just didn’t want to be bothered with the controversy? That’s what eats you up.”
North Carolina may have lost even more money through the NCAA avoiding the state as a host for its tournaments.
The true costs will ultimately be hard to measure with a concrete number, not knowing how these projects would have impacted the state over the long term.
Republicans at first defended the bill claiming that the economic impact would be minimal compared to the state’s otherwise healthy economy. At the time of the bill’s passing, the state had the 10th-fastest growing economy, with the ninth-largest population in the Union.
Defenders also claimed that the impact would be minimal compared to the estimated $500.0 billion the state economy generated per year.
Still, mounting pressure was eventually enough to sway the government to repeal the transgender bathroom law and replace it with a law that prohibits future legislation from local governments in order to protect LGBTQ people.
All-in-all, there’s no way to argue that the bill was good for the state’s economy. While the North Carolina unemployment rate has risen, part of that may be due to the controversial law’s short existence earlier in 2017.
“Economy at a Glance,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2018.
“NC Unemployment Rate Rose in December to Worst in 7 Months,” U.S. News, January 23, 2018.
“Local Area Unemployment Statistics,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2017.
“North Carolina’s January Employment Figures Released,” North Carolina Department of Commerce, March 13, 2017.
“’Bathroom bill’ to cost North Carolina $3.76 billion,” CNBC, March 27, 2017.
“North Carolina governor signs bill repealing and replacing transgender bathroom law amid criticism,” The Washington Post, March 30, 2017.