Boom in low-wage jobs driving drop in metro unemployment

Here’s the press release from the North Carolina Justice Center:

RALEIGH (October 2, 2013) — A boom in low-wage jobs is the leading factor contributing to the drop in unemployment across most of the state’s metros, according to today’s jobs report from the N.C. Division of Employment Security.

Although unemployment has dropped in all 14 of North Carolina’s metro areas over the last year, most of these job growth has occurred in the lowest wage sector—Leisure & Hospitality. Unfortunately, this industry pays $8.30 an hour, more than $12 below the statewide average—suggesting that most metros are seeing the biggest growth opportunities in ultra-low wage jobs.

Over the last year, Leisure & Hospitality was either the fastest or second fastest growing industry in 10 metro areas. These metros include:

Asheville—5.7% growth
Burlington—4.2% growth
Charlotte—9.5% growth
Durham—9.3% growth
Greensboro—7.6%
Greenville—5.8%
Hickory—5.1%
Rocky Mount—7.4%
Wilmington—8.4%
Winston-Salem—7.4%

“While it is certainly good news that unemployment is declining, the bad news is that the majority of all job creation is occurring in industries that don’t pay a living wage,” said Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center. “It’s hard to see how our metro areas can continue to see long-term economic improvement if the majority of available jobs pay $8 an hour below the state average. And without significant income growth, it looks like a bumpy road ahead for consumer spending and local businesses.”

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