Monday, April 20, 2009

Jobs Plan? What Jobs Plan?

The unemployment rate rose slightly in N.C. last month from 10.7 to 10.8 percent. However, those numbers might not be as encouraging as hoped at first glance according to economists quoted in the Winston-Salem Journal. Meanwhile, North Carolinians are still waiting on a jobs plan that empowers small business owners from Governor Perdue. Nothing so far.

Number not what is seems; small rise in N.C.'s jobless rate comes with a caveat, experts say

The slight increase in the North Carolina's unemployment rate to 10.8 percent in March may appear a welcome breather given that the rate has doubled in the past year.

However, economists cautioned yesterday that the state . likely hasn't seen a peak in its unemployment rate, and that the 0.1 percentage-point increase was likely caused by nearly 31,000 people no longer being considered as unemployed.

The increase -- reported yesterday by the N.C. Employment Security Commission -- continued the streak of setting a new monthly high for the unemployment rate. ...

When it comes to determining the rate, the commission primarily counts people who are without a job and actively looking for work. ...

Eventually, people who stop looking -- whether out of frustration or by choice -- are removed from the unemployment data.

They aren't the only ones unaccounted for in the data. Others include stay-at-home spouses, retirees, full-time students, people attached to their former employer through severance packages, and people without jobs who have moved into the state.

The unemployment rate also doesn't account for people who are underemployed -- those who are working in full- or part-time jobs below their skill levels.

Economists say that if all those people are factored into the jobless rate, it could be as much as three percentage points higher.

That's why Michael Walden, an economics professor at N.C. State University in Raleigh, said that the slight increase in the jobless rate was not good news.

"The lesson is keep your eye on the number employed, not the unemployment rate," Walden said. ...