Andrew Brod, senior research fellow in the Center for Business and Economic Research in UNCG’s Bryan School of Business and Economics, was interviewed by the News & Record regarding the drop in North Carolina’s jobless rate in November.

According to the article, the state had a jobless rate of 7.4 percent in November, which was down from 8 percent in October and 8.9 percent in July. This lower rate is closer to the national rate of 7 percent for that month.

However, the labor force declined by 8,100, attributed in part to the long-term unemployed giving up on looking for work, said Brod.

The unemployment number “looks great, but it’s a continuation of a six-month trend at least in which drops in the unemployment rate are happening mostly because of people leaving the labor force,” he explained. “This number looks good, but I take it with a grain of salt.”

Brod told the News & Record that the declining labor force coincides with changes in unemployment benefits approved by the General Assembly. These changes decreased the maximum number of weeks someone can receive benefits and the maximum amount of weekly benefits. The decisions also meant federal benefits for the long-term unemployed were canceled.

People who no longer receive benefits may be less likely to actively look for work, which is a qualification to retain benefits, Brod said. He concluded that it may take another month of data before learning whether the sharp November drop was a survey sampling hiccup or something permanent.