So much for that Carolina Comeback. North Carolina lost thousands of jobs in June. In addition, the workforce is continuing to shrink.
Pat McCrory and the Republicans have been claiming that the shrinking unemployment rate is due to massive hiring. But those claims have been debunked. In his column yesterday, Rob Christensen cited the chair of the UNC-CH economics department as saying the decline in unemployment rate is due to a labor force that is falling faster than the country as a whole. And Bob Geary cites renowned economist Dean Baker as saying, “There is zero evidence that cutting unemployment benefits in North Carolina or the rest of the country did anything to spur job growth.” And, finally, analyst John Quinterno notes that there are still fewer jobs today than there were before the recession and hiring has not picked up appreciably. So much for all of that spin.
As I’ve said before, as far as politics are concerned, the numbers don’t matter. How people are feeling about their personal situations do. And too many North Carolinians are feeling pretty unsure about the future and still beaten up by the past. As Newsweek recently noted, the average American family lost almost half its wealth during the Great Recession and they certainly haven’t made much of it up during our sluggish recovery.
In addition, the Republican legislature and Governor Pat McCrory blew a $500 million hole in the budget with tax cuts for the rich. They claimed it would spur the economy. Instead, it’s left North Carolina Republicans arguing over which painful cuts to pursue. And with taxes shrinking again next year, this is probably only the beginning.
We’re about to become the next Kansas. So what’s happening in Kansas, you ask?
Well, they were a year ahead of North Carolina’s GOP but trying the same remedies. They, too, were going to slash taxes to cause an economic boom that would actually increase revenue. So what happened? Revenue collapsed, job growth lags behind the country as a whole and, now, 100 Republicans are endorsing the Democrat challenging Republican Governor Sam Brownback.
North Carolina has followed the Kansas model. Watch for similar results. And all those platitudes about job growth? They don’t matter until average families see their incomes rising, their jobs more secure, their schools better funded and their opportunities increasing. Right now, those benefits are reserved for people who make their income off the stock market, not people drawing a paycheck.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >