Editorial: Unemployment isn't dropping fast enough

Apr. 01, 2013 @ 08:58 PM

Ignoring problems until they become the accepted norm is not a choice to make.

We won’t go there, and neither should anyone else. Our unemployment numbers locally, statewide and in the nation are not good. They are especially poor in North Carolina.

Yet, as watchers of the unemployment cycle go, it’s sounds a lot like acceptance of a new norm or the little boy who cried wolf. We hear they’re getting better, but people are hurting and cyclical crime isn’t relenting.

Stubborn leaders are loyal to parties, not us.

North Carolina’s unemployment has been no better than 9.4 and no worse than 9.6 since February 2012. Essentially, it’s going nowhere and most are happy because that means not up.

We’ll give a nod to seeing the positive. But a bigger picture view is demanded.

We’ll remind that since 1976, our state’s unemployment has topped 7.0 only once before, from October 1981 to January 1984. We’ve seen less than 4 percent for considerable stretches in the last 35-plus years, although none since 2000.

Keep in mind the translation. If just half of Vance County’s unemployed were working, more than 1,300 people would be getting paychecks.

In October 2008, we cleared 7.0 percent unemployment and haven’t been back since. Granted, we are trickling down — at a pace that could have us arriving below 7.0 in summer of 2015, just in time for an election.

But like jobs, the pace isn’t guaranteed.

The national rate was 7.7 for last month. Vance County was at 13.8 in the most recent numbers, which were January.

The volatility of politics and a kick-the-can approach by lawmakers on the Beltway is keeping our economy incredibly vulnerable. The White House and its department leaders may view unemployment checks and food stamps as economic stimulators, but we don’t.

The Congressional Budget Office reports long-term unemployment at an all-time high since the Great Depression. We’re talking three-quarters of a century.

Yes, there’s reason for alarm, and for more than one reason. We shouldn’t accept a new norm currently, and we need to see a better solution for the future.