A recent story on the national news website Politico highlighted an increasingly notable divide in the way the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump and Governor Pat McCrory are characterizing the state of the North Carolina economy. This is from “Trump message clashes with GOP’s most-endangered governor”:
“North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is desperate to talk about his economic achievements after a year mired in contentious debate over social issues, including the state’s transgender ‘bathroom law.’
The only problem? Donald Trump keeps coming to town and telling voters how terrible the economy is….
McCrory’s TV ads open with text promising ‘the truth about North Carolina’s economy’ before McCrory touts ‘one of the fastest-growing economies in the country,’ one in which thousands of new jobs are announced ‘every month.’ Yet earlier this month, Trump told attendees at a raucous rally in Greensboro that only under a Trump presidency would their ‘jobs come back’ and ‘income go up.’
‘Your companies won’t be leaving our country under a Trump administration, they’ll be staying right here,’ said the GOP presidential nominee. ‘And believe me, there are plenty of them right now negotiating to leave, I hate to tell you that’.”
What the data say
Last month, North Carolina Budget and Tax Center policy analyst Patrick McHugh offered a sobering take on the state’s economic numbers in a post entitled “Leaders in Raleigh need to face facts – North Carolina’s economy is far from healthy”:
“…[W]hen you include the thousands of North Carolinians who have dropped out of the labor force (missing workers), unemployment in North Carolina is probably more than double the official rate. This is no surprise to most people who follow economic data closely, and certainly isn’t news to the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who can’t find decent work, but it stands in stark contrast to the happy tune some folks in Raleigh have been whistling lately.
We see more of the same when it comes to income. Early last week, a number of leaders in Raleigh claimed that median income grew faster in North Carolina than any other state over the last few years. Sounds great, but it’s also not true. Those assertions were based on using the wrong survey, and when the more reliable data came out it showed that North Carolina has posted one of the worst rates of income growth in the nation since 2013.”
Today, the latest edition in the BTC’s “Prosperity Watch” sheds further light on the subject. This is from the new report:
“The long-term transformation of North Carolina’s economy that saw the loss of middle-wage jobs and the growth in high-wage and low-wage work over the past three decades accelerated in the Great Recession and continues in the recovery.
Data released on conditions in the North Carolina labor market in September demonstrate that industry trends continue to deliver a changing landscape for workers. This change makes it more difficult for workers to find jobs, earn family-sustaining wages and immediately match their skills to where the jobs are without additional training and education.
Over the past year, job growth has occurred in some of the industries hardest hit by the Great Recession like Construction. However, these more recent trends mask the deeper hole that many middle-wage industries must climb out of after the losses that accelerated in 2007. Traditionally middle-wage industries such as Manufacturing and Construction have still not recovered from the losses of the Recession, which is harmful to the landscape of employment, particularly in communities where these jobs have provided a key pathway to the middle class. Even in Trade, Transportation and Utilities, where growth has happened since the Recession, the growth rate has been modest. Meanwhile, growth in industries that require additional training like Education and Health and some occupations within Professional and Business Services has occurred but is likely to require retraining for the workforce to be able to enter those industries.
The data all point to a trend that is not new in North Carolina: a loss of middle-wage, middle-skill employment. There are important ways in which North Carolina may be able to secure manufacturing jobs through advanced manufacturing and other tools, but the numbers are unlikely to meet the needs of the state’s growing workforce. It is therefore necessary for a focus to be placed on skills training that is relevant to where jobs will grow so that workers can be certain to move into work that delivers economic security.”
In other words…
Though the two candidates continue to endorse and support each other, it will be fascinating to see if they continue to deliver such widely divergent messages on one of the most important issues in the 2016 election. Let’s hope facts and data of the kind reported by the experts at the BTC ultimately inform the candidates and the voters in the days ahead.