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Features High unemployment rate driven by lack of available job openings

North Carolina’s jobless rate climbed to 9.2 percent in December, according to data released by the Division of Employment Security Friday, Jan. 18, driven in large part by lack of available job openings.

Although the long-term trend of the state’s unemployment picture is moving in the right direction — the state’s unemployment rate dropped from 10.4 percent in December 2011 — the rate of job growth in the state still remains sluggish.

In fact, the state’s jobs deficit — the number of jobs that need to be created in order to replace the employment lost in the Great Recession — continues to remain high, now in excess of 520,000 jobs.

This indicates that the real problem facing the labor market’s recovery is the fundamental lack of available jobs for workers looking for employment. In fact, there are almost three unemployed workers for every one available job opening in the South, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This job-seeker rate is not out of line with North Carolina’s.

“While we all hear anecdotal stories about jobs going unfilled due to lack of skilled workforce, we’ve got remember that even if every single one of those jobs were magically filled by qualified workers tomorrow, there would still be two more workers out there looking for work,” Allan Freyer, Public Policy Analyst with the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the N.C. Justice Center.

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