John Hood

By John Hood

RALEIGH — There are about 300,000 fewer jobs in North Carolina today than there were in February, before the start of the COVID-19 recession. That’s a 7.5% drop in total employment — the biggest decline in the southern United States.

Our labor market also compares poorly on other measures. Our September unemployment rate of 7.3% is higher than the regional average. Our neighboring states of South Carolina (5.1%), Virginia (6.2%), Tennessee (6.3%) and Georgia (6.4%) all have lower jobless rates.

Nor is this just a statistical artifact driven by workers giving up and dropping out of the labor force. If you compare the ratio of people employed to the total working-age population, all

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