NC Unemployment Rate Beats U.S. Average over the Last Year

Thanks to lower taxes, less regulation, and a pro-growth governing philosophy at the legislature, North Carolina’s unemployment rate has been lower than the national average every month for the last calendar year, according to figures released by both the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

Unemployment Rate in North Carolina Compared to the National Average, September 2020 to September 2021

North Carolina’s unemployment rate for September 2021 was 4.2% compared to 4.8% nationally. 19 states, including North Carolina, had lower rates than the national average in September; 16 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, while the rate in 15 states tracked closely to the national average.

High tax states also saw the highest unemployment rates. California and Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in the nation in September at 7.5%, followed closely by New York and New Jersey at 7.1%, New Mexico at 6.9%, and Connecticut and Illinois at 6.8%.

Prior to the closures and restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina’s unemployment rate fell to 3.5% in January of 2020 after a steady decline throughout 2019. It spiked to a high of 13.5% in April and May of 2020.

These rates are “seasonally adjusted,” meaning that the influences of predictable seasonal patterns are removed paint a more accurate picture of how unemployment changes from month to month.

Yesterday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average national unemployment rate decreased from 4.8% in September to 4.6% in October.

The better-than-expected unemployment rate followed the Labor Day expiration of federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits, which included an extra $1,200 per month on top of regular unemployment benefits. 26 states withdrew from the the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program earlier than that in an attempt to entice workers back to the job market. And while the North Carolina General Assembly voted in June to do the same in the “Putting North Carolina Back to Work Act,” the Governor later vetoed the bill.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce is scheduled to release its October unemployment figures on Friday, November 19.

(Update: North Carolina’s unemployment rate declined to 4.1% in October, still well below the national average of 4.6%.)

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