North Carolina was ranked as one of the states with the highest unemployment and poverty rates in the nation by a recent report the Center for a Better South — yet the state has seen more economic growth than most.
According to the think tank’s report, North Carolina is ranked sixth in unemployment and 17th in highest state tax burden. The report also listed North Carolina as 11th for economic growth and the fourth for the best state for business.
Ferrel Guillory, UNC journalism professor and an expert in Southern politics, attributes the gap between the state’s roaring economy and unemployment increase to the change in the industries that drive the economy.
Guillory said since 2000, the state experienced a sharp recession from 2000 to 2001 and then a larger one from 2007 to 2008.
The two recessions devastated old North Carolinian industries including textiles and tobacco. This left the state with high poverty and high unemployment in the labor force, while strengthening the metro areas, leading to the diversification of jobs.