Pat McCrory has had such a bad week that we almost missed the worst news–the June jobs report. North Carolina’s unemployment rate rose for fourth straight month to 5.8%. The state lost 4,000 jobs from May to June. In contrast, the U. S. economy gained 223,000 jobs and the unemployment rate dropped to 5.3%.
It’s time for McCrory and company to admit it–the Carolina Comeback is a bust. It’s been two years since McCrory coined the term and promised North Carolina’s economy would come roaring back. Instead, we lag behind the nation as a whole and the South in general. Even if these numbers are revised, the recovery that McCrory and the GOP promised has failed to materialize.
It’s clear that just cutting taxes and regulations is not much of an economic development strategy. Not only is our unemployment rate heading in the wrong direction, our median income has fallen faster and further than other states in the region since Republicans took over. Last year, our economy grew at a far slower rate than either the nation or the region. Economically, the GOP has failed us.
Contrary to the free marketeers claims, employers and entrepreneurs don’t just look at taxes and regulations to determine where to locate. The look at other factors like quality of life, infrastructure and workforce preparedness. Right now, we’re making up the bottom of a lot lists. We’re now 47th in the nation in median income. We’re about the same in teacher pay. We’re near the bottom in per pupil spending. We’re cutting funding to higher education. That’s not appealing to many people looking for a place to do business.
For years, Republicans maintained that Obamacare would stifle growth because companies want stability and predictability. If that’s true, then the GOP here has scared off a bunch of suiters. Random redistricting, slashing education funding, restructuring the public education system, micromanaging local governments, insulting gays and lesbians, and protecting racist symbols indicates turmoil, not stability.
Pat McCrory came into office promising to rebrand North Carolina. He’s succeeded. While other Southern states are coming to terms with their racist histories, we’re digging in and letting people know that we’re in the “Hell, no. I ain’t fergittin’” camp. In the eyes of the nation, North Carolina is now a backward state with an economic development program more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century.