North Carolina’s unemployment rate is 7.9 percent; almost 36,000 people lost jobs in November; the number of unemployed workers seeking jobs is at an all-time high. Commentary from the N.C. Justice Center (Budget & Tax unit) is below:

RALEIGH (Dec. 19, 2008) — North Carolina’s unemployment rate ballooned to 7.9 percent in November, nearly a full percentage point increase from October’s 7.1 rate, according to statistics released today by the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina.

These numbers reflect the state’s highest unemployment rate since October 1983. They are also well higher than the national average, which was 6.7 percent unemployment in November. During the period reported on, unemployment increased by 35,828 workers. This does not include seasonally adjusted employment, which decreased by an additional 58,621. In November, 359,319 workers were unemployed but actively seeking employment — an all-time high for North Carolina.

‘These numbers are a sobering indication that the labor market has taken a sudden, sharp turn for the worse in the last month or so,” said John Quinterno, a research associate with the North Carolina Justice Center’s Budget & Tax Center who specializes in labor issues. ‘We’ve seen the labor market slowly bleeding jobs over the past several months – but now, the patient has entered a critical stage.”

On a seasonally adjusted basis, North Carolina employers shed 46,000 payroll positions (net) between October and November. Additionally, the number of positions on the payrolls of NC employers fell by 72,000 (net) between Nov. 2007 and Nov. 2008. And with the exception of education/health services and government, every major sector of the NC economy shed jobs between October and November.

To help working families through this recession, he said, both state and federal lawmakers must act.

‘At a federal level, quick action on a stimulus package is necessary to rebuild the labor market,” said Quinterno. ‘North Carolina should also restore our commitment to social insurance programs, such as unemployment insurance and health care, which are essential for families coping with a job loss.”