The Aug. 14 Point of View “What Carolina Comeback? NC a poorer, more unequal state” by John Quinterno was troubling in its use of selective and outdated statistics to back distorted, election-year claims.
Quinterno cites figures from 2007 to 2014, data largely left to us by prior governors that has now been eclipsed by encouraging figures. His analysis also doesn’t compare North Carolina’s economic performance with that of other states or the nation overall or note that under previous administrations North Carolina suffered disproportionately during the Great Recession – falling well below most national averages.
Since Gov. Pat McCrory’s inauguration in January 2013, the state’s unemployment rate has plummeted from 8.8 percent to 4.7 percent today – the second-largest decrease in the country over that period. Unemployment rates are lower in all 100 counties.
In real numbers, North Carolina’s economy has grown over 300,000 net new jobs since then. In fact, while ours is the nation’s ninth-largest economy, we generated the sixth-greatest number of new jobs over the last three and a half years.
Between 2012 and 2015 (the latest yearly figures available), average weekly wages for North Carolina workers rose by 4.6 percent – the highest in the Southeastern U.S. Our GDP growth rate since 2013 ranks as fourth fastest in the nation.
While Quinterno and left-leaning pundits dismiss GDP as a meaningful measure of aggregate economic vitality, it remains the most accessible gauge states have to track and compare performance and is used routinely by the federal government.
In the past year, the state has joined leading corporate citizens in announcing major business initiatives. These include Novo Nordisk’s $1.8 billion facility in Clayton and CSX’s $160 million “Carolina Connector” terminal in Rocky Mount, which is expected to create 1,500 jobs and draw North Carolina’s $151 billion supply-chain closer to national and global markets.
No, prosperity hasn’t reached every worker or community, but McCrory’s initiatives have put North Carolina on a trajectory to continue these exciting gains.
For starters, in reaffirming North Carolina’s “Triple A” bond ratings, the ratings agencies praised the state’s continued economic expansion and strong fiscal management.
Tax reforms signed by McCrory will save taxpayers $4.7 billion over five years, and our state’s tax climate has leapt from 44th in the nation to 15th, the most dramatic improvement in the history of the Tax Foundation’s annual rankings. In addition, the state has paid off $2.5 billion in Unemployment Insurance Fund debt and now enjoys a $2.1 billion surplus – a $4.6 billion turnaround in less than four years.
But there is no “enthusiasm” for the Carolina Comeback, Quinterno says. In my travels across the state and world, I find plenty of excitement about the great things happening in North Carolina.
Quinterno’s economic analysis seems suspiciously tinged by campaign politics. How else to explain his need to resort to antiquated statistics and bogus statements to unfairly discredit North Carolina’s economy? It’s an economy that arguably is the best-performing in the country.
N.C. secretary of Commerce
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the Point of View.