The big news on Friday was this: Mecklenburg County’s unemployment rate has ticked down to 10.3 percent in September from 11 percent in August.
The big context not provided by the local media was the fact that the unemployment rate dives every September in Mecklenburg County from whatever it was in August, just as it has every year for the last 21 years without fail. (Probably before then, too, but the numbers before 1990 aren’t available on the state’s employment commission website.)
John Quinterno took a stab at analyzing this in the Charlotte Observer’sarticle.
“Don’t lose sight of the big picture, which is that labor market conditions across the state have gotten worse in the past year and demonstrably worse since the start of the recession” in December 2007, said John Quinterno, principal at South by North Strategies Ltd. in Chapel Hill. “The state as a whole bottomed out in February 2010. Since then, we’ve added only 14,400 jobs statewide. We’re not really seeing any marked improvement.”
Here’s the rest of the big picture. (It drives me nuts how the state media is fond of reporting how many jobs we’ve put back, but rarely the total we’ve lost.)
The state is down a staggering 278,890 jobs since Sept of 2007.
So all this means … exactly nothing, other than that a bit of seasonal hiring has started. Which is what is going on nationwide, too.
That said, the good news is that Charlotte’s employment market had 1,571 more jobs this September than last September. (A number that could and likely will be adjusted downward in a few months, but still, at least it wasn’t negative.)
So that’s good, until you consider that in August the county job market had 1,008 fewer jobs than the August before. In fact, the jobs picture here has zig-zagged all over the place. In four months of this year, there were more jobs than last year. In the other months there were fewer jobs, and there was no rhyme or reason to the order this happened in except that described above.
Which means … I don’t know what.