Triangle's jobless market remains anemic

jmurawski@newsobserver.comJanuary 30, 2013 

RALEIGH

The Triangle’s jobless rate was flat in December and down by a mere fraction for the year, indicating an anemic job market in 2012, according to data issued by the N.C. Department of Commerce.

Triangle unemployment was stuck at 7.7 percent in December, the same level as in November. More than 60,000 people in the Triangle labor force were looking for work.

But the Triangle’s economy was ill-equipped to absorb those job seekers, creating only 13,400 jobs in 2012, according to data issued by the Labor and Economics Division of the N.C. Department of Commerce and seasonally adjusted by Wells Fargo in Charlotte.

Economists have long ago scaled back their expectations for a dramatic recovery, but several said Friday that 2013 will likely be stronger than last year.

“We’re going to start seeing growth in North Carolina at least at the pace of the United States, which means we’ll have a better year this year,” said East Carolina University economist James Kleckley.

The Triangle is one of the state’s strongest regional economies and is incrementally ahead of the U.S. jobless average of 7.8 percent in December. North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 9.2 percent last month.

Regional jobless data for North Carolina came out just ahead of a Federal Reserve report blaming a “pause” in U.S. economic activity in recent months on weather-related disruptions and other temporary factors.

Wells Fargo economist Mark Vitner said one of those factors was the political uncertainty in recent months over the fiscal cliff impasse in Congress.

The Triangle gained 1,400 jobs last month and 13,400 for the year, falling well short of expectations. Vitner said that he still expects that year-end revisions, to be issued by March, will show that the Triangle gained about 20,000 jobs.

December data show the greatest job gains in education and health services. The biggest losses were in government.

For the year, the Triangle’s jobless rate was down marginally from 7.9 percent in January 2012. While stagnating this year, the jobless rate has markedly improved from 2011.

Triangle unemployment in December 2011 was 8.2 percent.

Murawski: 919-829-8932

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