Dr. Andrew Brod, a senior research fellow in the Center for Business and Economic Research in The Bryan School of Business and Economics, was interviewed by The Associated Press regarding a report of North Carolina unemployment rates falling to 6.7 percent this past January. This interview was picked up by the News Observer and the News & Record, in print version only.

The report stated that the state’s jobless rate was at 6.7 percent in January, down from 6.9 percent in December and close to the national average of 6.6 percent. However, this report was the latest to contain mixed messages about how well the state’s economy was shaping up for workers and why. While the state Commerce Report found the number of people employed increased by 17,407 between December and January, another survey found nonfarm payrolls recorded 7,200 fewer jobs.

“We’ve been in this kind of transitional period for years now. There are times when I say I wish I could have some news that was all good or all bad. If it was all good or all bad, it would be easy to interpret,” said Brod. “You take the numbers as a whole. They’re not all good or all bad.”

The release of the January data was delayed by about a month as researchers revised and updated previous information, an annual process. The results of the revision indicate that the steady drop in North Carolina’s unemployment rate had less to do than previously thought with discouraged workers quitting their struggle to find jobs and no longer being counted, Brod said.

The state report commented that about 60,000 dropped out of the pool of people either holding jobs or looking for work in the year ending in January, while nearly 106,000 left the unemployed list. Brod indicated that around 60 percent of the decline in the unemployment rate was due to people ending their job searches, for whatever reason, rather than landing jobs.

“In terms of the flight from the labor force, it’s looking as though last year wasn’t as bad as we previously thought,” Brod stated.