Half truths from the other side over the state of North Carolina's economy and unemployment rate lead me to sit down and write this post.
Over the last couple of years, several things happened which are responsible for the positive economic and employment trends we are currently experiencing in our great state. In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly passed comprehensive tax reform for the first time in several decades. Our efforts to modernize our outdated tax structure alleviated some of the financial stress on hard working individuals as well served to encourage a climate of job creation across North Carolina. I fully believe that a fair, simple and broad base is the best option forward and furthermore will establish predictable and reliable revenue for the state.
In addition to reforming the tax code, this general assembly decided to tackle the challenge of reforming the state's unemployment insurance system. As a result, we were able to pay back the federal government nearly 70 percent of the more than $2.5 billion (with a "B") that we borrowed; we paid this much back in less than 18 months, mind you.
Critics, as they always will, claim that North Carolina legislators began an assault on the poor and working class. What is actually happening in North Carolina? Our unemployment rate has dropped over 2 points in the last couple years, 98% of which is due to workers gaining employment, not labor force drop out. When examining the facts, other claims just don't hold true.
What critics saw as heartless, irresponsible policy decisions turned out to be a package of legislation that aided North Carolina in becoming a leader in job creation and accelerated an already declining unemployment rate. North Carolina is also adding jobs at a higher rate than the rest of the country, and is maintaining its labor force at a better rate than the rest of the country.
Since starting reform efforts in 2011, North Carolina has recruited hundreds of building projects, recruited tens of thousands of jobs and is tracking of over $5 billion in investment flooding our state over the next few years. Talk about a Carolina Comeback...
It is the 24th Consecutive Month there has been a drop in the NC unemployment rate, or that its held steady. In fact, we have the 2nd largest drop (2 points) in the nation, only behind our neighbors to the south. With a growing economy, I continue to recognize that there are several factors that contribute to economic growth: a simplified tax system, reduced regulatory burdens, and a predictable business climate. Legislation like the Tax Simplification and Reduction Act are steps in the right direction to adding jobs to the North Carolina economy.
The new leadership in North Carolina saw employment continue to rise throughout the last year. January's unemployment numbers show that the state gained over 17,000 jobs and improved from a 6.9% unemployment rate to 6.7%.
In fact, North Carolina is approaching the national average at 6.6% of North Carolin's population unemployed. Over 45,000 jobs were added throughout the last year, which equates to a 2.1 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate.
Keep an eye out for the Harnett county unemployment numbers this week. I know that with economically sound policies we can make NC break the national average for unemployment.