Yesterday’s job report showed North Carolina’s unemployment rate inched up to 9.5% in January. However, the news wasn’t all bad. The state is steadily adding jobs but it’s also attracting “job seekers from other parts of the country.” Essentially, there are more people moving here than jobs being created.
The report also illustrated the huge divisions in our state. Most of the job growth is in the Triangle and Charlotte regions, areas that continued to gain population throughout the recession. Two regions are among the fastest growing job markets in the country.
So if our urban centers are absorbing new residents while their unemployment rates are considerably less than the state as a whole, what’s happening to our rural sector? They must be taking a beating and stuck in a Depression, not a recession. In addition, a report last week noted that 47 of our 100 counties are actually losing population so, if their unemployment rates are climbing, the jobs must be leaving even faster than the people.
The Republican leaders in the legislature believe the prescription for job creation is cutting taxes and regulations. However, the areas that most need jobs, don’t need less of either. What they need is infrastructure. They need the high speed internet, better water and sewer and transportation facilities that connect them to the rest of the state. These improvements take money and investment.
Gov. McCrory said he wanted to put together a 25 year plan to meet North Carolina’s growing infrastructure needs. Democrats in the legislature should reach out to him governor, hold him to his promise and work to address those needs. If we don’t invest now, we will pay later in social and welfare programs to support an aging and impoverished rural population.